Take Refuge in God

Dear Church,

This past Tuesday night I was privileged to participate in the prayer vigil in DC led by the Emergency Clergy League. Below are the words I shared and the prayer I offered:

The Muslim theologian Said Nursi famously said, “I take refuge in God from Satan and politics.” These days when hate is normalized, children are ripped from their parents, prohibitions are placed on ethnic and religious groups as well as groups associated with their specific orientations, and the value of life is commodified to determine if it matters or not, I speak sincerely when I say it seems hard to find the line between Satan and politics; nonetheless, we seek refuge in God.

And so, as a nation we see many supposed people of faith claiming heirs, rights even, to the “true” political way.

I was reminded recently how James Wm. McClendon cited Roger Williams as a key source for understanding authority rightly. As a Baptist minister I would be remise not to include a little nod Williams. McClendon, drawing from Williams’ life and thought, observed, “From Jesus onward, government interference in anyone’s faith, be that faith false or true, constituted disobedience to Jesus himself; if undertaken for supposed biblical reasons, it was self-refuted.”

Yet here we are with a new supreme court justice, on the day of a critical election where a coalition of “emergency clergy” have gathered to intercede. And intercede for what? I suppose for many of us, of all faiths, we would say peace and justice.

But allow me to speak as a Christian for a moment. The always brilliant Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney reminds us, “If our gospel proclamations are not true for the most marginalized among us, women, non-binary folk, trans folk, gender-nonconforming folk and LGBTQIA folk, then our gospel is not true.”

And so, we pray to the God of creation to create new hearts within our elected leaders, reminding them that we are all tasked as stewards of God’s creation, a gift for us and our children.

We pray to the God of Abraham whose offspring are more numerous than the stars above, may we as children of Abraham work towards peace and not conflict, as we are all family.

We pray to the God who used Balaam’s ass, that even if a donkey can be taught obedience unto God so can any of us. We pray that obedience unto the sovereign God is instilled upon the hearts of our elected officials.

We pray to the God of Joshua, that as the walls of Jericho fell, so too will the walls we build up both spiritually and physically be brought down.

We pray to the God of a Jewish radical who taught the first shall be last, the captives would be set free, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and even love our enemies, praying for those who persecute us.

And finally we pray as the one who once did the persecuting instructed saying: Beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in God, and the God of peace will be with you. Amen

~Rev. Nick