Prayer and the News About It

screenshot worship service
A clip from the news coverage on our church’s service for wholeness and reconciliation [don’t know how long the link will remain active]
Our service for wholeness and reconciliation went on as scheduled last night at 6:15 p.m. EST.  I was a little surprised to learn from the news at 11 that it was our pastor’s idea – I know he didn’t say that, because he told me so – and that shouldn’t have bothered me, anyway. The reporter/cameraman did an amazing job of making our sanctuary look like it was rather full of people, when there were about 25 – which is incredible for a not-regularly-scheduled mid-week service – and most were members of the congregation, but we did have a visitor, and it seemed that everyone found the service meaningful.

The liturgy was mostly from the PC(USA) Book of Common Worship and the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer, with a few original elements when we didn’t have something available (e.g., the prayer for all those who sought public office).

4 responses to “Prayer and the News About It”

  1. Although not reflected in the comments made by the WHAS reporter, the idea for the service and the design of the service came from Heather Thiessen, the church’s Clerk of Session. I offered encouragement and support.


  2. Members of the congregation felt comfort and solidarity in the service.

    But there is this other side to it, in the form of a post from a professor of mine (Dr. Stephen Ray, now at Garrett): “Not so random provocation. The gospel of reconciliation is a theological artiface constructed to disarm the downtrodden and their allies by stabilizing the power of the hand seemingly offered in peace.” And that other side is serious.

    I’m convinced more and more that a kind of conversation needs to happen that does not now happen in our common life. I’m not sure how that conversation is to take place. I am convinced it has something to do with reconciliation – but it can’t be the kind of reconciliation that papers over the real sources of conflict and leaves them unaddressed. The profoundly intersected misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and rejection of cultural difference that energized this year’s election is real, and people don’t have to approve of it – or at least, of its most egregious manifestations – to become its de facto supporters. All of us, I suspect, support a great many things with our practices that we disapprove of in the abstract. Sometimes, just not saying you are against something is a form of being for it.

    On the other hand, I’m also increasingly convinced that a certain kind of opposition is also failing us. It exposes the conflict, and the sources, but it also … unifies the opposition in counter-productive ways, rather than recruiting elements of it that ought to be … recruitable, and recruited.

    I hope this is not a statement about “radicalism” vs. “moderation.” One lesson I learned in seminary was that the only ante-bellum Christians who ended up on the right side of history were the abolitionists. (Thanks, Chris Ellwood.) The moderates had their priorities in the wrong place, possibly as moderates always will – I say with regret, because moderation is my bent. So I hope it is something else – I think it is, but I am not clear on it yet.


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