My Dear Ones in Christ,
My heart is so heavy that I find it difficult to write today. Who could have even imagined just a matter of days ago that the pandemic would become, as one journalist wrote, “…below the fold?” In other words, who could have thought that this world-wide scourge would become secondary news to what has exploded across our country and, indeed, around the world? Who could imagine 52 years after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that our country would continue to persist in the sin of racial hatred?
Willfully turning our eyes away from the injustices that far too many of our fellow Americans have continued to endure is no longer an option, and we, as people of faith, must -- absolutely must -- put that faith to work again. How? How can we do anything about all that is going on when perhaps our age or our health prevents us from joining in peaceful protests? How can we be in solidarity with those who are marching for justice and peace and seeking to change unjust systems of oppression?
I fear getting into a rut when I pray, and I will confess to all of you that it happens. Perhaps we are all guilty of praying by rote: we voice endless religious words, and yet we don’t really let our very spirit rise up to our Heavenly Father. What is prayer anyway? Is it some kind of an attempt to impress God with how many of those religious words we can string together? Or could it be that true prayer is fully opening our hearts to God and, by being absolutely open and authentic in His presence, we allow all that is within us to be poured out before Him? I must believe that is the very kind of prayer that is being required of us at this time in our history.
With that in mind, I have some spiritual homework for all of you. You’ve been missing that, haven’t you? When King Solomon had completed building the Temple, he gathered all the people together for its dedication. At that dedication, Solomon blessed the people, and then he prayed one of the most incredible prayers that is recorded in the Bible. Our homework is to read that prayer in the fullness of its power and intent. You’ll find it in II Chronicles 6. It’s 42 of the most powerful verses, and in reading them over again, I have realized that this is a prayer for our times. Over and over again you will read Solomon praying, “…listen in heaven, and forgive the sin of your people.” Let’s fervently pray each word and line of that prayer together, and then make it a prayer for our days.
“When your people have sinned because they have not listened to the cry of the oppressed, but then turn and fully confess and forsake that sin, then listen from heaven and forgive the sin of your people. When your people have sinned because they have not been moved by the needs of the poor, but then repent by turning to you and attending to the needs of the poor, then listen from heaven and forgive the sin of your people.”
You’ll find your own ways of examining yourselves in order to pray such a prayer effectively.
I’m convinced that when we all pray in the spirit with which Solomon prayed, that God will absolutely hear our prayer, forgive our sins and shortsightedness, and will bring the healing that both we and our country, indeed our whole world, stand in such need of in these days. So, let us pray!
On Saturday morning Bp. Weisenburger will ordain Deacon Peter John Pedrasa a priest for service in our Diocese. The Mass will be celebrated with a number of the priests of the diocese as well as by some invited guests. Due to the pandemic, Deacon Pedrasa’s family cannot come from the Philippines to attend his ordination, so, please, keep our brother in prayer as he enters into this wonderful new phase of his life.
With sincerest thanksgiving in Christ for each of you, and with pleas for your ongoing prayers on my behalf, I remain your brother in Christian bonds.