We live in a strange time and place. While this tension is one that every generation before us has felt, it seems more poignant these days. We find ourselves feeling more and more divided. Families have stopped talking to each other. Friends have been unfriended. Angry words have been spoken. Marches have taken place. The divide continues to increase. This is the difficulty of seeking to follow Jesus in a predominantly 2 party system where neither party can or ever will fully represent the values of the Kingdom of Jesus. We often find ourselves at odds with our leaders and even our friends and both sides of the aisle.
In light of this season and the upcoming midterm elections, friend and pastor in NYC, Rich Villodas said,
“I don’t ever recall hearing so much about midterms. In my time as a pastor, I have never led a time of prayer for the midterms. Yet, this year, something is noticeably different. To that end, I created a prayer for my congregation and for the church around the country. In prayer, we are called to fundamentally name realities for the sake of shalom. We name the reality of God’s life among us, name our broken sin-stained lives, and name the cry to join God in the project of gospel renewal.
We can’t afford to pray ambiguous prayers. We need prayers that help us to shape a new social imagination marked by love, truth, forgiveness, and justice.”
He then offered up this prayer:
“In preparation for the midterm elections, Lord, we pray for our country.
Our country is hurting. Families are torn apart. Friends have turned into enemies.
Lord, may we see how morally inconsistent we are, how self-righteous we can be, how fear has deeply poisoned our hearts, how the lust for power has blinded us to the gospel.
Lord, deliver us from evil.
May we all repent first, before waiting for others to repent.
Lord, before we can pray for unity, we must personally do the hard work of unmasking our own duplicity.
Forgive us when we demonize another.
Forgive us when we speak truth without love.
Forgive us when our moral outrage is simply a facade covering our need to be right.
Forgive us when we reduce love to simply being nice while we ignore injustice.
Forgive us when we sin against another.
And may we learn to forgive when we are sinned against.
Lord, may the church be a prophetic and priestly voice. May we speak truth to power while offering healing to the oppressed and the oppressor.
Teach us to be salt and light. May our speech be always filled with grace, seasoned with salt.
Teach us to put our hope in you, and to properly discern our civic responsibilities, having our lived marked by a non-anxious presence.
Lord, before we speak, may our lives be marked by silence. But guard us from silence when you call us to speak.
Lord, you are always at work, making all things new. Make us new people with new hearts who can join you in this project of restoration.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
May it be so in our hearts, in our community and in our world.