I recall on how 9-11-2001 Jack Howell has shared his first instinct was to be at the church in prayer. This was my first instinct today as well, in the midst of the grief and anger I experienced at witnessing the desecration of the Capital Building in Washington D.C.
What follows is the Scripture and Prayer observed last night, January 6, 2021.
10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. 11 Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. 12 We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. 13 Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. 14 So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, 15 and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. 16 Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.
18 Offer prayers and petitions in the Spirit all the time. Stay alert by hanging in there and praying for all believers. 19 As for me, pray that when I open my mouth, I’ll get a message that confidently makes this secret plan[b] of the gospel known. 20 I’m an ambassador in chains for the sake of the gospel. Pray so that the Lord will give me the confidence to say what I have to say.
Ephesians 6:10-20 CEB
Oh Lord and God, you are the God of perfect life and liberty. Truly, it is our trust in you that has made this land prosperous and mighty. We are not a perfect nation, by any stretch, but we are a nation that has consistently demonstrated a commitment to dialogue about the dignity and destiny of human beings within the borders of the rule of the majority and protection of them minority. Our greatness has never been in our military might, our economic power, or in our numbers- the greatness of America has always been its capacity to, even sometimes through blood and turmoil, to come to repentance and reform in pursuit of a more perfect union.
We are horrified at the storming of the US Capitol. While we struggle to listen and understand their plea and plight at this moment of those who have felt disenfranchised, we also recognize that these actions are in no way acceptable. We recognize that when it comes to outright violence to subvert the freedom of this land our listening must cease. We cannot harbor or legitimize the tendencies present in our society in these last years any longer- to have done so thus far has only brought us deadly consequence.
Today the scales have fallen from our eyes. We now finally and clearly see the great evil present in our land and in the hearts of some of our fellow citizens. Their preference is for their own power, not for the preservation of liberty or the institutions which keep us in constant dialogue and protect it. O God, forgive us we pray. It is by the outright consent and often complicit silence of Christians in the United States that we have come this reckoning, to these acts of horrifying terror. Send your Spirit on us today for our repentance appropriate to the moment.
Lord Jesus, you said that we should know the truth and that the truth would set us free. Today, let your people, the people of God in the United States of America and around the world more than ever be a people comfortable with speaking the truth. Help us to be a people who no longer abet lies or stand comfortable in their presence. Help us to be people committed to engaging in uncomfortable conversations for the sake of your truth and for the sake of love for one another, always.
Lord Jesus, in your death you demonstrate for us the way to surrender power for the sake of others. You demonstrate that love will cause us to listen. Love will cause us to suffer. Love will cause us to bear the burdens of one another. We are moved today to hear the reports of Capitol Hill Police Officers who with their own bodies and blood barred entrance to rooms in the capital until those they were protecting were safe. In this time equip your people the Church with the capacity to demonstrate truly what your love is. Let us love today, even those who with malign intent threaten us. Help us in our truth, but also in our peaceful and patient presence to be instruments you can use in the healing of this land. Help us to be people that help America, by our witness and prophetic call, to grow and flourish as a place of welcome and haven for all.
Holy Spirit, help us to be people of grace. By grace we mean this: the God given gift for the capacity to change. Grace is not merely a word permitting forgiveness, grace is the power for life, the power for new beginning, the power of resurrection. Certainly, by the words we preach, the sacraments we share, in our gathering together, in our giving of gifts, in our public witness, let us be instruments of grace which impart your gracious power of forgiveness, yes, but even more of transformation. We will stand for no more of this. We must change.
Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we feel a deep wound in our hearts this day. The images of broken glass on the floors of the chambers of the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives is too much to bear. The idea that our elected representatives are put to flight is repugnant to us, but so much more the sorrow that we could grow this divided as a nation. We are shocked. We are appalled.
God, today be the defender and very present help to the members of the National Guard, to the Capitol Hill Police and the police of the District of Columbia. God today, be a defender and very present help to the United States of America. Yes, we acknowledge the fragility of our human project, send us courage for the facing of the hour.
We acknowledge as well the deep pain we are already enduring from a global pandemic, from the isolation brought about by the contagion and estrangement effected by our political differences. God, our God, God of Creation, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God of Sarah, Hagar and Rebekah, God present in Jesus Christ, God witnessed by the virgin Mary, God present in the still small voice, comfort us in our grief in this hour, let us resolve to abandon our silos of isolation.
God, today deliver wisdom and just deliberation to those elected to serve us. By your Spirit and power pour out on them and on us all a spirit of unity and peaceful reconciliation, a spirit of truth, a spirit of just mercy….
Today, Almighty God, we ask that you would empower as well your church, to stand in the crosswinds of the our national storm, to intercede for the United States and for liberty everywhere and to equip us as individuals to all join in the task.
We recognize as Christians that our first task is not to build and sustain America, but we believe at the same time we as Christians are given a sacred trust to steward our neighbors, to speak for the needy and defenseless, and to bear witness to what is just and true. Let us do this now with unity as we unswervingly look to the author and perfecter of our faith Jesus Christ, who is our only sure foundation. Until the glory of the Lord surrounds us all, and we dwell in the peace, love and liberty of the Lord forever. Amen and Amen.
Rev. Glenn Knepp January 6, 2021