My Prayer Mantra for 2021
Post date: Jan 15, 2021 6:8:18 PM
Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,
Blessings of Epiphany light to you. I hope you are continuing to stay safe and healthy.
Early in the month, Ms. Judy and I met to discuss worship for January and February, including Lent. I told her then I wanted to wait and listen for the Holy Spirit with regard to our Lenten theme. I also said I wished to listen to you all, and discern what you needed spiritually as we journey together toward the cross and the resurrection. For certainly, didn't 2020 seem like a year of perpetual Lent with the pandemic? I questioned with Judy, what would 2021 bring us? Where would we be with Covid as a community and more largely, as a nation, in February when Lent began? Oddly, I could feel a sense of hope beginning to rise inside me, even seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.
Then came last Wednesday and the vicious attack on the Capitol and our democracy, resulting in the death of five people, and all I could feel was holy anger. Holy anger at the display of a form of toxic Christianity in which I grew up — that ended up with me leaving the church because of it — taken to its violent extreme. Holy anger at seeing a Confederate flag carried around in our Capitol, alongside banners with Jesus’ name being waved outside. Witnessing the mob, my holy anger took me back to a time when the message of my religion was one based solely on guilt, eternal damnation, and fear of God's wrath. I hovered between holy anger and grief last week, and it pained me, for I believe in being a person of faith who shines the light of God’s joy and grace. And then I read something during my sermon study this week —
But they believed and hoped more powerfully than they grieved.
This statement by esteemed Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann has been my prayer mantra since Tuesday. I’m not there yet, in believing and hoping more powerfully than grieving, but I’m getting there. I want to be there. It’s about even now. And I’m trusting God to take me to the other side. As we hear that more attacks around the nation are planned for this weekend, I am praying — without ceasing — that the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding and the love that Christ showed while he was on earth will finally come to this world.
Let us gather online as people of Christ’s peace and love at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM via Zoom or on our YouTube channel. As always, our music is sure to bless your soul. Dan Hillyer is our featured soloist and he will be singing “I’ll Walk with God” and “Here I Am, Lord.” I will be preaching from 1 Samuel 3.1-10 and John 1.43-51 and my sermon title is We Are Called.
Because Christ came to make all things new, I continue to pray, But they believed and hoped more powerfully than they grieved. Perhaps you will pray it with me too.
In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,