Nov. 13 Sunday Preview, from The Rev. Kaji Douša
First thing, Wednesday morning I awoke to a number of things I’m struggling to process. No matter where we sit on the political spectrum, we are conscious of a nation divided perhaps beyond our imagining.
I just awoke to a nation I did not know existed.
On election night we had a beautiful time of prayer and study with our friends from the Temple. Our concluding prayer from the Reform Jewish tradition is an apt one at a time like this. Would you pray it with me?
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection.
Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need.
Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth.
May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have died in defense of our ideals.
Grant our leaders wisdom and forebearance.
May they govern with justice and compassion
Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You.
May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
In a divided nation, families divide, too. Many of us have relatives we don’t know how to face because we stand on opposite sides of political divides we don’t know how to breach.
The Rev. Sydney Avent’s beautiful ordination on Sunday emphasized her call to reconciling ministries rooted in justice and love. She so appropriately chose Isaiah 58:12 as one of her guiding scriptures:
…you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
The breach, folks, is wide and deep and I don’t know how to repair it. But God does.
It’s a time when we need to draw in close. We need each other. We need inspiration and hope in the face of division and in many cases fear and despair. We need to figure out what it means to trust God in this new world we face. We need God now more than ever.
I’m writing this letter at my little station in front of the church. I’ve set up a table with a little sign that reads “I’ll pray for you.” And that’s just what we’ve done all day. All day, people, especially women, have stopped by in tears, some unable to speak, others not sure what to say. Children around 8-10 years old almost always ask to stop and talk to me. Caregivers, lots of folks who feel particularly vulnerable as they wonder about basic concerns like health insurance and deportation have been stopping at my table. Part of how we repair the breach is that we do just this. We call on God to repair the breaches within each person so that they can be made whole.
Looking ahead to Sunday, we gather for a Word from God, knowing that we need hope. We will be particularly focused on ideas of freedom and captivity. After a light lunch and a break, we will gather for a special, free showing for the official release of Bill Moyer’s powerfully arresting new film, Rikers “New York City’s largest and most notorious jail.” Churches around the city will be showing the film as part of a Day of Moral Reflection. This film should come with a trigger warning: I have seen it. As it interviews formerly incarcerated people, the language is very raw and the subject matter is intense. There are tales of unthinkable violence that will be hard to take in. For those of us in a place where we can, we need to turn towards these stories so that we can be motivated to act.
After the film, we will have a time of prayer and reflection and a conversation with Pastor Benny, who, in a former life was one of the founders of the notorious gang The Latin Kings who trained with The Rev. Maria Lopez and now pastors a church in Brooklyn. He will be available to pray and think with us about what is most needed. The day will end with a concrete call to action that any of us can do.
This is, church, how we restore the breach. We find these places where we can offer healing and then…we do, with the help of God.
I cannot think of a time when we have needed each other more. Just like my little sign says:
I will pray for you.
See you in church.