Prayers for An Uncertain Journey -- Pastoral Response to Events of January 6, 2021

Dear Ones,

Little did we know what uncertainties these days since Christmas would bring. But here we are. 

Today, as I have reflected on the events that unfolded at our nation's capital yesterday, I wanted to step away from vacation-mode for just a moment to reach out to you and to our community. I imagine that you, like me, are trying to make sense of it all. I know that I am angry and grieving -- not sure how to respond or even what to say. And so it is that I share these initial reflections:

At a time when all I want is to return to "normalcy," I think it is important to lament together the truth that yesterday's violence revealed yet again: that deep fissures exist within our nation. Some of these divisions are over political, social or religious ideologies. Some are less overt -- divisions over who should be included in our democracy and who should be relegated to its margins. Divisions over how we should treat those who are poor, living with disabilities, neurodiverse, foreign, black, brown or indigenous, or those who have physical or mental ailments. Divisions over how to respond to the systemic injustices that have long existed within our nation. Yesterday, we were reminded that these divisions will not vanish with the ringing in of a New Year or the conclusion of an election cycle. 

Healing such divisions will take work: hard, faithful, loving, courageous work. As people of faith, we have a  role to play in this healing. As Christians, we follow a man who lived on the margins of his society, a man who ate with religious leaders and social rejects. A man who taught not a new religion but the foundational values of his faith -- Judaism: humility, love, justice, forgiveness, and care for the stranger, the poor and the sick. As Christians, we seek to follow in that man's footsteps. We seek to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God. We profess the God of truth, justice, radical inclusion and steadfast love. 

I believe that our community, First Congregational Church Loveland UCC, is called (and gifted!) to do this work within our congregation and outside of it. Not because we all agree on everything but because we do not all agree. Because we bring different perspectives, experiences, social and political beliefs, and we are still committed to listening to one another respectfully and humbly. Because we desire to love one another well and to bear witness to God's radical love.

I don't know what this work will look like for us in the coming days and weeks and months. I believe a piece of it is lament -- to grieve that the world is not as it ought to be. I believe a piece of it is discernment -- deep listening to one another, the Holy Spirit, and our wider community. And I believe a piece of it is the intertwining of prayer and witness, contemplation and action -- for these two need each other to be sustained and spirit-led.

I am honored, humbled and grateful to be on this journey with each of you and with our community, and I look forward to being back with you in the office next Monday. In the meantime, I am holding you, our local communities and our nation in prayer.

In lament, hope and love,