Dear Friends in Christ,

Though he is languishing in a prison, St. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus to remind them that they have been called by Jesus, and built into every call of Jesus (including ours) is a command to seek love, to maintain unity, and to practice peace.

“I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).

This is a troubling time for our nation. And the original sin that is behind this troubling time has been a part of our nation from its founding. 244 years of slavery. The Dred Scott Supreme Court decision. The Terror of Reconstruction. The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Separate but Equal. Jim Crow Laws. The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Martyrdom of the Emanuel Nine. And in less than 90 days, the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, which were followed by righteous anger, indignation, and protests throughout our nation.

So, how do we live the way of Jesus, and how do we live the call of Jesus, to seek love, to maintain unity, and to practice peace? I was up late last night. Like many of you, I could not sleep. Too many images, and words, and worries. I have this old dry-write board in my study. And it’s always full of words, and dreams, and visions. And some of those dreams and visions come to fruition, but not all.

In my prayers last night, I prayed for God’s guidance and leading. And at 2:30 a.m. I came into my study and wrote down 6 words.

  1. Pause
  2. Listen
  3. Pray
  4. Learn
  5. Humbly Accompany

I’m not sure that the order is right, but this is how God is calling me to begin. And I invite you to begin with me.

I’m going to pause and take a deep breath. In order that I might focus on the things that God would have me see and hear. So many days, I’m onto the next meeting, the next call, the next e-mail. I just need to pause

so that I may listen. Listen for the voice of God, as that voice is breathed in the silence, but also written in the Scriptures. I’m also going to listen to voices that I most need to hear, which are not the voices of social and mainstream media, but the voices of those who speak to me with authenticity and authority. I am currently listening to the voices of Bishops Allende, Curry, Davenport, Ortiz, Negron, Suarez, and Eaton. In their voices, I do not hear a call to dominate, nor a call to retaliate, I hear the call of Jesus. I hear the voice of God, so I listen.

And then I pray. I pray for the peace of God. For the promise of God. For the power of God. I pray that I recognize my own sin, my own complicity, and my own privilege, which always pulls down the shade on my ability to see the truth. And when we fail to see the truth, then nobody’s free. So, I pray…

And then I learn, and I’ve got a lot of learning to do. And a lot of unlearning to do. And there are some gifted and articulate teachers who can lead us to learn from deep wells of wisdom and strength. And when we humbly learn to live a new way, which is the old way, which is God’s way.

Then, and only then might we humbly accompany those whom God will send, to help us, to help God to build the beloved community.

I’d like to close with a prayer that is composed by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and collected in the book “Thou Dear God”: Prayers that Open Hearts and Minds (2014).

A Prayer for Inspiration

God, we thank you for the inspiration of Jesus. Grant that we will love you with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, even our enemy neighbors. And we ask you, God, in these days of emotional tension, when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail, to be with us in our going out and our coming in, in our rising up and in our lying down, in our moments of joy and in our moments of sorrow, until the day when there shall be no sunset and no dawn. Amen.