- Julie Canlis
A Blessing for Love in a Time of Conflict
Artwork: Scott Erickson
Yesterday was Inauguration Day, and it is a relief to me that for absolutely every Christian, this day - whether welcomed or despaired - is not defining for us. Christians have weathered every good and bad political climate because our hope is not in being able to control things, but in the One who relinquished control and power - whose glory was redefined by the cross. This battered and bruised nation of ours is part of the larger world that God made "good" and that God is remaking - remaking even now - by the life, death, and resurrection of the one human who is also God. Inauguration Day can unite us all in this.
Psalm 121 has always guided me in times of political turmoil and I would like to share this translation with you by Zephania Kameeta, a Namibian preacher/theologian:
I look up to the powerful of the world; Will my help come from them? My help comes from the Lord, Who from my childhood Took my weak hand in his strong hand And led me in his way to this day.
He will not let me be unfaithful; For he is always awake and will protect me. Yes, my protector never sleeps He will guard me; He is by my side to protect me from all dangers visible and invisible.
He will protect me from all dangers As I go away and come back to my home; In his strong hands I will be safe. With this assurance and faith I will live and die. Let the Lord’s name be praised, now and for ever.
Finally, I share in the exhaustion that we all feel - the exhaustion of being misunderstood, misrepresented, and even the exhaustion of our own failure to navigate this time with the humility of Jesus. Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us. I hope that this "Blessing" (by John O'Donohue, Irish priest) might minister to you, become a confession and intercession - perhaps to be read at dinner, or before bed - with a good dose of silence on either side.
“A Blessing for Love in a Time of Conflict"
When the gentleness between you hardens And you fall out of your belonging with each other, May the depths you have reached hold you still.
When no true word can be said, or heard, And you mirror each other in the script of hurt, When even the silence has become raw and torn, May you hear again an echo of your first music.
When the weave of affection starts to unravel And anger begins to sear the ground between you, Before this weather of grief invites The black seed of bitterness to find root, May your souls come to kiss.
Now is the time for one of you to be gracious, To allow a kindness beyond thought and hurt, Reach out with sure hands To take the chalice of your love, And carry it carefully through this echoless waste Until this winter pilgrimage leads you Toward the gateway to spring.
Let the Spirit speak to the Churches (Rev 3:22). Are you the one of whom this blessing speaks? Are we?
Julie P.S. - I think almost every Christian was troubled by the events at the capital of January 6th, and the Anglican Church has come out in a united voice that we cannot - we must not - confuse the gospel with nationalism, for the sake of those who do not know Jesus. Here is Bishop Todd Hunter's response (we are "Rocky Mountain" diocese - he is Bishop of the "Church For the Sake of Others" diocese, which is less geographical and more missionally focused).