We are in trouble and every day I am reminded at that by those that send their cowardly threats and taunts meant to dehumanize my existence and the humanity of those I serve as an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ with a mandate to preach and teach the gospel.
The gospel of Jesus at the core is love, and though many have tried that ideal has never been diminished. It is the central organizing principle of all the great faith traditions of the world. What is divine is not limited to one religion or another. Love, justice, humility (Micah 6:8) are a summons to action that we all share.
As a follower of the Prince of Peace, my call is to preach peace. Does the anger and vitriol directed my way - and at all those who preach justice and inclusion - worry me? It is a sign of a spiritual sickness. When I respond in kind that sickness infects me and I pray to Jesus for healing. But I am not afraid.
I am resolved to continue speaking out against the powers and principalities that allow hate and violence to fester. My heart breaks because I think about the people of Chicago, the people of Newtown, the people of Roseburg, the people of Charleston, the people of Orlando and so many other places - inside the United States and around the world - but giving into bigotry and fear is giving into evil. This is not the time for building walls. We must walk the more difficult path. I am not afraid.
So I share this prayer from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, as inspired by Phillips Brooks of the Episcopal Church in the 1800s, as we steal ourselves for another season of struggle. My you find truth and inspiration in the words whatever faith or philosophy that might guide you.
Jesus said, "You ought always to pray and not to faint." Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger women and men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, but for power equal to your tasks. Then, the doing of your work will be no miracle — you will be the miracle. Each day you will wonder at yourself and the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God. Amen.
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