Yesterday morning around 9 a.m. I finished writing my e-news article for publication today. Before sending it to Jane to be emailed to everyone, I got distracted by the business of the day. Before I knew it, it was 2:30 p.m. and time for the Finance Committee Zoom meeting. I still hadn’t emailed my article. A few minutes into the meeting, Laura Padgett entered and shared with us the gut wrenching news she had been watching on television. The Capitol Building had been occupied by a mob of armed rioters committing an act of sedition by attempting to prevent the certification of electoral votes for President-elect Biden. The people’s house was vandalized. One woman was shot and killed. Many were injured and chaos ensued. Our nation was plunged into a moment of peril. We are still in that moment of peril. Our next steps will determine the future of our democracy.
It was painfully clear to me that my original article was useless in this moment of peril. Later in the afternoon, Adam and I prayed the Great Litany along with a few other priests in the diocese. It was recorded on Facebook live and is available for all to join together in prayer. You can find it on Christ Church, New Bern’s Facebook page. The Great Litany was the first published part of the Book of Common Prayer. It is a prayer borne out of a moment of peril — a war between France and England. With the clarity of an epiphany, I realized that what is most useful to us in this moment of peril is prayer. Pray. Pray for peace. Pray for the soul of our nation. Pray for the future of our democracy. Pray for Republicans and Democrats and Independents. Pray for our President and President-elect. Pray for the Supreme Court. Pray for Congress. Pray for all in authority. Pray for those serving in the armed forces of our nation. Pray for all who our in danger by reason of their labor or their travel. Pray for the healing of our deep and dangerous divisions. Pray the Great Litany (Book of Common Prayer, pp. 148-155). Pray the Lord’s Pray. Pray the Psalms. Pray in the words given to you by the Holy Spirit.
In this moment of peril, in every moment of peril, God hears our prayers. God enfolds us in the grace and comfort of his presence. God gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us into the ways of justice and peace. God gives us the strength and faith to live into our Baptismal vows which we will renew this Sunday on the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord — vows “to persevere in resisting evil, to proclaim by word and example the good News of God in Christ, to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being, and to seek and serve Christ in all persons loving our neighbor as ourselves.”
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of our prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, p. 820)
So go ahead and pray. Pray without ceasing!