5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 7 They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently.1 Timothy 1:5-7 (New Living Translation)
This scripture reminds me to stay focused, to not be distracted by the things that are not leading me to a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith. This does NOT mean sticking my head in the sand – it means staying focused and aware of what is going on around me. I find myself in prayer, deeper prayer, the more this time of pandemic and racial injustice and political strife continue. As many of you know, I have advocated all along for us to stay calm, stay connected with each other and with the church community, and to stay focused on our mission. Part of this work is prayer, and then the actions that arise out of that prayer. Here are some of my prayers and my work this month:
- A peaceful transition of power for our country. I am prayerful that with this transition accomplished, thoughts of violence and retribution may be quelled. As a Christian, I will model peace and non-violent action whenever possible.
- Pray for the law enforcement officers and military folks that have been protecting and defending our country. I also pray for them to be able to see and treat everyone they encounter equally, without regard to race or status. It was clear there would have been a different outcome on January 6th had there been rioters of a different color or nationality. As law enforcement officers walk a challenging line, I also remember that I am complicit in the system that has raised up these issues, and will continue to work toward racial reconciliation and justice as my part of this prayer.
- Pray for only peaceful nonviolent protest, without riot, injury, or death. January 6, 2021 was a shame and dishonoring of who we are called to be as Christians, as well as Americans. Many in the group carried flags of Christianity as well as American flags and political flags. I will be in prayer over the ways in which my witness has not been sufficient to help people see Jesus without nationality or violence, and act in ways that are revealed to be a better witness of our faith, described so well in the above scripture.
- That ongoing crisis of COVID-19, that the virus does not spread more deeply in our community, and I pray for the work of our front line hospital and medical workers that they remain safe and healthy. I also pray for all those currently suffering from this dangerous virus, and I will be wearing my mask and keeping physically distant from everyone to play my part in slowing the spread of the virus.
I also wanted you to know that we lost one of our pastors last week to Covid-19, retired Rev. Pam Baldwin, who was serving the West Loudoun charge of Roszelle Chapel UMC and Bluemont UMC. We mourn with her family the horribleness of this virus that has taken so many. We also celebrate with them her life and her service to God.
I will specifically be praying for these areas at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and invite you and your congregations to join me as you are able.
Also – I have a question for you who are reading this – How is your church responding to these situations? What can be done, taught, or modeled that might be helpful?
As leaders of your church, I thank you for your work, your prayers, your calling and your love for your people – I am proud to serve with you all.