Preachers are supposed to be people of words. After all, preachers… preach. Every now and then preachers go longer than they should. I am guilty on occasion.
But after a week when the news spoke of hate speech that took on the form of pipe bombs in the mail, an anti-Semitic gunman killing and injuring many at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, as well as the killings in Kentucky of two persons at a grocery store by a gunman who had tried to enter an African American church moments before, I had no words.
I had no words as I prepared for worship on Sunday morning, October 28. Sure, I had a sermon already written. Yes, I did modify that sermon a bit to include references to the violence from the day before.
But I needed more words. Different words. For myself, and for all of St. John’s.
I opened The Book of Common Prayer, which provides prayerfully-crafted words from our past which resonate in the present, treasures we can rely upon when our minds and our mouths are still shaping the verbal expressions of our inner turmoil.
If you were able to be in worship on October 28, you prayed the sentiments of our Prayer Book’s prayer “For the Human Family” on page 815 as I spoke (and prayed) the words. It is surrounded by many other such offerings. But this one provided words when I could not. I am thankful.
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.