07 Jan Bishop Stewart’s Statement and Call to Prayer in Response to the DC Riots
Dear Beloved People of God in the Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest,
Like many of you, I was grieved and heartbroken by yesterday’s events in our nation’s Capital. I call you to intercede now for our nation and for the city of Washington DC, and to deeper identification as citizens of the heavenly city (Phil. 3:20).
Yesterday on the feast of Epiphany, we read from Isaiah 60 that when the light of Jesus shines in the city of God, “No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.”
With our eyes fixed on Jesus’ kingdom, we are heartbroken by the violent and lawless actions of protesters turned rioters in Washington DC, and all those who condone or quietly excuse such acts.
As many of you know, I have sought amid these recent months of great disruption, to honor our civic leaders regardless of party affiliation (Romans 13:1-7). Over the years, I have been compelled to name policies supported by different presidents that have not upheld the biblical dignity of human life in regard to abortion, immigration, and religious liberty. I have also decried violence in other protests in recent months. I have not, in my memory, ever felt the need to name the personal actions of a particular president. But today is different. President Trump has made significant contributions to undermining proper allegiance to our Constitution and to the mayhem that ensued in mob action against our Capitol building. This is a moment of great seriousness in our nation. Multiple senior members of the President’s own party have denounced his words and actions.
What are we followers of Jesus called to do? Our mission remains the same:
- “Put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man, for there is no help in them” -Psalm 146.3
- “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” -Mark 1.17
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” -Philippians 4.6
Today and every day we trust in Jesus, we seek to love others in mission, and we pray. It pains me to speak so starkly about our country and President. But it relieves me to say that we truly have great joy in the Lord. Today is a very good day for the Gospel of Jesus. Today is a good day for us to pray through our own emotions and fears, and then love others who do not know the Lord. As the Church we have the gift of Jesus, which stabilizes us and provides the most important gift we can offer others.
Also, as the Church we join our hearts in repentance and we renounce any ways in which we identify more strongly with a single race, ethnic group, nation or political party than with the name of Jesus and the kingdom and culture of heaven. We, as those who treasure sacred symbols, decry the combination of holy and unholy symbols that were employed in ways that undermine the dignity of any human being. This leads to confusion regarding the needed separation of the Church and other movements.
We join our hearts in prayer in the words the Great Litany: “From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and unprepared, Good Lord, deliver us.”
I urge you as a diocese to intercede for our nation. Join me in fasting and prayer this Friday as you are able. I encourage you to include these points for prayer:
- + Forgive us for any idols we have made of politics or people
- + Save us from all sin and any grip of the Evil One
- + Turn our hearts to submit fully to the Lord and kingdom of heaven
- + Thwart the enemy’s efforts to deepen discord and hatred in our country and cause division in our churches
- + Strengthen and preserve the democratic institutions of our nation and help us engage in our political process with truth and love
- + Guide our country in a peaceful transfer of power
- + Provide holy wisdom and clear direction to all bishops and church leaders
- + Comfort those who are mourning
- + Restore us and grant the gifts we need to serve you now
- + Pour out your peace and prophetic insight to equip us as your agents of kingdom goodness in our world
Let us together fix our eyes on the face of Jesus and hold fast to the kingdom of heaven, a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28).
With love and prayer,
+Stewart Upper Midwest
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