We are a congregation of followers of Jesus Christ. In my sermon on Sunday, I read from our Book of Order which includes the statement that “to be a Christian is to worship Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.” Part of our worship is lament for the pain in the world.
When I was in college in Washington, DC, my friends and I would watch C-SPAN quite regularly. We were political “wonks” and loved the discourse, the debates, and the beauty of the democratic process. We were Democrats, Republicans, and a whole variety of other viewpoints. We laughed, cried, turned tables upside down (that only happened once!), and learned what it meant to engage passionately.
Some of my favorite evenings were when watching a spirited debate in Congress and looking at one another and saying “let’s go watch.” We’d scramble together the taxi money, grab our House Gallery Passes, and go to the U.S. Capitol to watch democracy in action.
For the past several years I have mourned the demise of the civility of our political and public discourse. I know that I’m perhaps a bit idealistic which can cause disappointment, but today, as I write this note on Epiphany, while our United States Capitol Building is occupied by armed individuals, I feel as though we are watching the turning of another new, dark corner in our nation’s democratic journey. And it makes me sad. It makes me angry. It makes me homesick for the innocence of the times when people with whom I disagreed passionately would pile into a taxi and sit in the gallery of a majestic, historic, beautiful hall and watch the continued birthing of democracy.
Perhaps I placed too much confidence in our American system of government. Perhaps the stability of our government and our system has been an idol for me. Perhaps even our political diversity - political diversity that is present, of course, even in our congregation - was an idol for me as I have always believed that in disagreement and discourse there would be a furtherance of our democracy, not a brutal disregard for it. I still appreciate our varied views and I treasure them and I’m glad that our community is as diverse as it is.
But where there’s no room for diversity is in the imperative that in our community as followers of Christ - as Christians - we must be united in our worship of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This means our worship of one who promoted peace, who was concerned about those without power, who cared for the poor, who tended the sick. We must live out our worship of Christ in the way we engage one another, the way we engage our community, and the way we exist in the public square.
At Epiphany we celebrate God’s revelation to humanity and humanity’s recognition of God. This is significant for so many reasons, including great significance for how we see and engage the world today. We need to continually be returning to God’s gracious act of love for humanity and be about the work of bringing Christ’s love into the world even today.
Friends, I hope you will join me in prayer for our nation, for our future, and for our unified commitment to being Epiphany people - people who, like the wise travelers who visited Jesus, are seeking Christ and seeking to follow Christ in our world today.
A prayer from our denomination's Book of Common Worship:
God of ages,
in your sight nations rise and fall,
and pass through times of peril.
Now when our land is troubled,
be near to judge and save.
May leaders be led by your wisdom;
may they search your will and see it clearly.
If we have turned from your way,
help us to reverse our ways and repent.
Give us your light and your truth to guide us;
through Jesus Christ,
who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.
You are invited to join us today at noon for our regular Midday Prayer Session during which time we will pray for our country. Click here for the link to join at noon.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we gather for worship at 9:30 on Facebook Live. We will be celebrating the Baptism of the Lord and considering, once again, the wonder of who Christ was and is. In all times, and especially in times of difficulty, we return to God in worship to be centered, united, and encouraged.
Also, as you’ll see above, we have a new Early Risers group starting next Thursday morning. The brand new book - Faith After Doubt by Brian McLaren - is now available, so I hope you’ll join us! Read more by clicking here.