A Time of Prayer for the Nation: Video and Transcript

The video above was streamed live on the evening of January 6, 2021.

Aloha. I’m Eric Anderson. I’m the pastor of Church of the Holy Cross, United Church of Christ, in Hilo, Hawai’i, and welcome to this time of prayer as a long day continues in Washington, DC, and for all of us who care about those events in the national capital today.

I just need to call things what they are. It was a mob. It was a group of people dissatisfied with results of an election, deluded, misled into believing falsehoods about a stolen election. The only way that that election was stolen was by people voting for the other candidate and their votes being counted.

These folks broke through barricades, broke windows, broke doors, drove Congress from its work. The words insurrection and rebellion are not unfair descriptions of what happened.

Now there are times that insurrection is called for. Today is the Epiphany. It is the day that we recognize the visit of the Magi to the newborn Jesus. And on that day – or rather after that day – they committed a let’s-face-it-not terribly-great act of insurrection. Technically it wasn’t insurrection because the king whose orders they violated was not, in fact, their monarch, but the Magi did not return to Herod with the news of the location of the newborn Messiah. They had said they would. They had been directed to do so. A monarch’s orders are supposed to be followed.

They were warned in a dream, so they went home by another way.

The question for us all is: What is our other way?

So I do want to read some Scripture this evening, but it is not, in fact, the text from Matthew about the visit of the Magi. It is an older poem that is found in the book that we call Ecclesiastes, attributed to someone merely called “the Preacher,” in Hebrew, Koheleth.

In the third chapter:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

What is our time?

It is not, I pray, a time for war. Too many have died already on just this day. I hope it is not a time to gather stones together, especially if what we’re going to do with them is throw them at others. I am certain it is not a time to keep silent. I am certain it is a time to speak and the message has to be this: that we will not accept a violent overthrow of this republic or its elections, that those who attempt to do so will be resisted, will be overcome, and will be held accountable.

The Congress is once again going through its process. The chances are fairly good that they will not be done tomorrow. Indeed, at this point it is already tomorrow in the District of Columbia. Well, for you and I tonight it is time to pray, to catch our breath, to strengthen our spirits: because tomorrow may yet bring new challenges.

It certainly will, and it is through these prayers, I hope, that we can be more ready, more equipped, more empowered, to meet them.

Let us pray.

Oh, God, we are filled with feelings, and truth be told chances are fairly good that we have multiple feelings within us and among us who are praying this evening. So the first thing that I would ask is for wisdom, a true spirit of discernment to tell truth from falsehood, self-serving lies from facts; that we might be able to tell those who are acting in righteousness and faithfulness from those acting callously, out of greed, lust for power, a need to control; any of those small, unworthy means and ends. We pray for wisdom

We pray for wisdom to determine our own course of action. What is the time for us, O God? It is certainly a time to speak, but how shall we speak and where shall we speak and to whom shall we speak? Is it a time for holding people accountable? Is it a time to let them come to that place themselves?

Is it a time to accept the unacceptable? No. That way is folly, but how do… How do we declare what cannot be endured and see it brought successfully to an end? That – that is where we need your wisdom, O God.

We pray for courage, for though we are many miles from the grounds of the US Capitol, we are also neighbors with folks who would do the same thing. So give us to speak, to act, to declare what is good and right and true, and then stand and face if there are consequences for those speeches, for those actions.

And we pray, O God, for grace, that where we have heard and contributed out of well-meaning ignorance or out of “going with the crowd,” where we have in our ways failed to prevent today’s events, then may we have grace to repent and reform and renew.

For truly none of your Creation, O God, are perfect, and where we would project fault truly some of it is projected from our own feelings. So it is. Help us to change that.

But as we repent, O God, we also ask your grace be with others who desperately need to repent their actions today and before today: A change of heart, a change a spirit, a change of soul, a change of direction. Because truly, O God this cannot go on. Truly, O God, this nation needs a better way.

We ask that you hear the prayers of your people offered in deep silence.

[Period of silence]

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I hope this has been a time that allowed you to tend to your soul. It’s been a long, long, tough day, and I can’t persuade myself that tomorrow will not also be long. So feed your spirit, read the Scriptures, bring your petitions to God and then listen for God to speak.

Blessings to you tonight, my friends, and may God speak to you, strengthen you, and settle your soul in peace. Amen.

Categories Community, Events | Tags: , | Posted on January 7, 2021

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