This is the statement I recorded to air at the beginning of Calvary’s worship service for Jan 10, 2021. I didn’t change the sermon I had already written and recorded. Maybe I should have. Who knows. But I know that I’ve preached about these things before, and will preach about them again.
Here’s the statement:
This week, as Victor, Joann, and I were in the process of recording the liturgy for today’s worship service, a mob of the president’s supporters invaded the Capitol buildings, disrupting the work of our House and Senate, as they certified the election of President elect Joe Biden. It is the first time in our memory that the peaceful transfer of power has been threatened in our country, and while the acts of those domestic terrorists is shocking and dismaying, we have seen the fomenting of that violence being encouraged by elected leaders seeking their own advantage. We should be dismayed, but we should not be surprised. Words have consequences. One cannot light a hundred little campfires and then be surprised when the forest is in flames.
It must also be said that mob was comprised of white men and women, and most of them were allowed to escape unharmed after their crime spree in the halls of Congress. Black men and woman have been killed by police, and called thugs and criminals, for much less. We must reckon with, and repent for, the systemic racism and white supremacy that was on display this week, as a sitting President egged them on and told the mob he loved them.
While the events of this week have revealed truths about our country we’d prefer were lies, we can choose to change. We can choose hope. We can choose to reckon with our past, our systemic racism, our broken politics, and we can choose to write a different story for our country. I pray we can heed the lessons of this week, and learn some bitter truths so we can build a better union. I pray we can set aside the differences that have divided us in order to claim the higher ideals we claim we hold— justice for all, equality before the law, and freedom that gives life and hope for all people.
When people advocate violence, we can continue to work for peace. When people sow division, we can continue to seek the common welfare.
Because we pre-record worship in these covid days, we recognize that this service won’t fully reflect the quickly changing dynamics in our country, and we hope you will reach out to us if you are in need of prayer or comfort during these days.
One of my favorite passages in scripture is the 8th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, where he says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that in all things, God is working together for good for those who love God, who are called according to God’s purpose.”
Trusting that God is able to work through all things, knowing that God’s Spirit is, even now, interceding on our behalf, let us pray:
Holy One, we do not know what to say, but we come to you seeking solace. And we turn to you, humbled in the face of violence and harm, seeking comfort, seeking peace, yearning for hope. Guide us in the paths of peace and justice. Lead us through the journey of repentance and reconciliation. Yours is the voice that created the world with a word, so we ask you to speak to us today. We are listening. Help us work together with you for good. Amen
Later in the service, we did a Reaffirmation and Renewal of Baptismal Vows, where we re-affirmed the vows we take in baptism.
….I ask you, therefore, once again to reject sin, to profess your faith in Christ Jesus, and to confess the faith of the church, the faith into which you were baptized.
Do you renounce all evil and powers in the world which defy God’s righteousness and love?
I renounce them.
Do you renounce those things that separate you from the love of God?
I renounce them.
Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior?
Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, obeying his Word and showing his love, to your life’s end?
I will, with God’s help.
We, as a nation, have some renouncing to do. May we set aside false allegiances and turn toward the God who created us in love, together.