Listening for God in a Challenging Time

It was in the opening minutes of the Zoom meeting of my worship planning team yesterday, January 6, when it started. We have a group text set up between my wife, two grown children, and daughter-in-law … and it lit up. Not with one or two texts, but with no less than fifteen texts. I saw pictures popping up in the text thread, and I knew it was something big. I finally had to say to my team that I needed to take a minute to see what was happening.

I was grief-stricken as I saw the images and read the texts. I looked back at the team to tell them what I was seeing. It was the lawless mob breaking into the US Capitol grounds demanding that their presidential candidate had won. In an instant, I felt the rush of anger, fear, and sadness that combined into one river flowing through both the conscious and subconscious parts of my being.

The prayer as we opened at the beginning of the meeting was for God to somehow be present in the midst of the anger, fear, and hate that was driving the crowd to breach the US Capitol Building.

Following the meeting, I was so overwhelmed by what I was seeing that I began to cry and pray. As I did, I remembered something we had used in the past couple years at Wellspring as we emphasized our inclusiveness … speaking out about racism. It was an affirmation that came as a gift to us from a group in Georgetown known as Courageous Conversations, which invites us to deeper conversations about racism and prejudice. The affirmation itself is based on words spoken or written by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I searched my computer and found it. I used it as my prayer, and then Jim Deuser, one of the leaders of Courageous Conversations, later sent out an email that had the same thing in it.

I share it here in hopes that it might touch us all with an even more expansive meaning today.

An Affirmation of Faith
Based on the Words of
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I refuse to believe that we are unable
to influence the events which surround us.

I refuse to believe that we are so bound to racism and war,
that peace, brotherhood, and sisterhood are not possible.

I believe that there is an urgent need for people
to overcome oppression and violence,
without resorting to violence and oppression.

I believe that we need to discover a way to live together in peace,
a way which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. 
The foundation of this way is love.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the
final word in reality.  I believe that right temporarily
defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.

I believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day
for their bodies, education and culture for their minds,
and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.

I believe that what self-centered people have torn down,
other-centered people can build up.

By the goodness of God at work within people,
I believe that brokenness can be healed,
“And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and everyone
will sit under their own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid.”

Friends, let’s be people of prayer and people who resolve to speak a word of peace and love as we nonviolently resist a world based on fear and hate. Let peace and love be our anthem.

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