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Archive for June 10th, 2020

Into the Void

My last call as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was here in Lexington, VA and I began in the summer of 2001.  A few months later, the horrific events of 9/11 savaged our nation and the world. A week or two later, some group at Washington and Lee University held some sort of prayer vigil in front of Lee Chapel.  I attended.  We sat on the steps facing the front door of Lee Chapel.  Some university official said something.  We were all given candles and we sat there, with lit candles, saying nothing, staring at our candles.  All of a sudden Quakerism became the public state religion of the day.  Finally, a student started the Lord’s Prayer. I and several others joined in, but not everyone. It was a tepid response. Politically incorrect to publicly pray. After a while, we left.

I found the vain silence void and empty. Stultifying.  But it is not my feeling that is central.  Factually, it was empty and yet with the cauldron of individual thoughts and feelings simmering in a hundred or so souls with no leadership to express those thoughts and feelings…and at a university. 

Back in 2001, Christianity had already been removed from that public square in front of Lee Chapel, not by law (we do still have the 1st Amendment) but by the practice of those who now practice little or no public religion.  The public square was factually void in the faces of the murder of 3,000 fellow Americans, black, white, Asian, American, foreigners, gay, straight, Christian, Jewish and probably some Muslims. Nothing was said and maybe that was the correct response, but emptiness cries out to be filled.  Nineteen years later we are witnessing what the public square devoid of the Church is being filled with:  a religious fanaticism with no God except a cause. Racism is a sin but now its more:  sin is racism and the skin color white is sin.  Penitence is forced on people in the streets.  There is no offer of forgiveness.  Only more breast beating which is never enough:  penance without stopping. This new religion has filled the void with violence against bodies, property and souls. It won’t stop.

The Lord in His Church sends His Church into the void with the Gospel of the Kingdom.  The Lord judges us justly by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.  The Lord wills to free  the oppressed and the oppressor.  We are called to kneel to pray and rise to serve.  We are called to kneel to serve and yet serve no man or cause as we would God.  We are freed by Jesus Christ to pray…even in places filled with dread silence or dread violence. We need to point in public to Jesus Christ. Help us, good Lord.

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