Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?"...The LORD said to Moses...I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so the people may drink." [Exodus 17:2b, 5a, 6a]
Come, let us sing to the LORD, let us shout for joy to the Rock of our Salvation. [Psalm 95:1]
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. [Romans 5:1-3]
Differences in culture, dress, religion, food and drink, accents, even among those of our own nation – and foremost, skin color – separate us, narrowing our human experiences, creating deep and ancient, or at least very old prejudices, handed down through generations with little explanation or understanding of the roots of the conflict. The “Hatfields and McCoys*” of life and legend in our land, are just one example. Left unchecked and re-evaluated, layers of mistrust continue to deepen and solidify, turn to un-examined hate, and all too often, violence. Us vs. Them, is a prevailing human issue – if you're one of them you cannot be one of us. All too often we can't – or rather won’t – discuss the whys and wherefores of our opinions and deeply held beliefs. Understanding each other might taint what we've been taught to believe by those we accept as authoritative. Our beliefs have been sustained and enhanced by the continual distraction, misinformation, and propaganda from those who profit from our divisions. And, whether we admit it or not, many of us don’t like facts to get in the way of what we want to believe. Thinking differently about something I thought was undisputed is very uncomfortable, even scary.
WWYD? What Would You Do – if you were desperately thirsty in a place you didn't feel you belonged in, or your car broke down in a strange location, or you witnessed someone unlike yourself being harassed or worse? How have we fostered the isolating of ourselves and the marginalizing of others by what we have done and by what we have left undone? ** Possibly in the communal desert of our own making, we falsely believe that it keeps us being us and them away from us which makes everything better for us. Great logic? I regularly have to stop and examine my reactions and the in-my-head responses to think and wonder why I am for it or against it, whatever it is and to whom it is directed, as well as who I accept as my authority on the matter and why.
*“The Hatfields and McCoys,” A true American family feud with deadly consequences for both sides has become a metaphor to describe great and volatile conflicts between neighbors or groups. Click here to see more: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hatfields-and-McCoys
**from the Confession in the US Book of Common Prayer, pg 360, emphasis added
LET US, GOD’S PEOPLE, PRAY
Leader: ~ O God of Grace and Peace, drive us from the desert of discouragement we lead ourselves into by our wayward hearts and selfish grumblings. Guide us back to the saving water from the Rock of Faith that washes away all fear, anguish, and uncertainty.
~ O God of Grace and Peace, awaken, inspire, and turn the efforts of the leaders of this World, this Nation, and this Community into a cooperative spirit, especially now, for the common purpose of the health, safety, and prospering of all Your people everywhere. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
~ O God of Grace and Peace, pour Your love and enduring hope into those who are seriously ill and fearful of what is to come. Grant health and safety to all who minister to their needs. We now join our hearts to pray for those in need… add your own petition
~ O God of Grace and Peace, bathe the hearts of the mournful with Your healing mercy, as those who have departed this life now, dance with joy in the fountains of eternity with You. We pray especially for… add your own petitions
~ O God of Grace and Peace, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials, aloud or silently… add your own petitions
~ O God of Grace and Peace, refresh the spirit of those we have called into leadership for Your Church. May their faith in You course so strongly in their hearts that they and we are sustained and renewed with the courage of their convictions. We pray especially for: add your own petitions
The Celebrant adds: Great Lord of Heaven and of All the Earth, Christ among us is the proof of Your love for us and the model for how to live as an inclusive community of faith. Unharden our hearts to rid the world of prejudice and hate by reconciling ourselves with others, planting seeds of kindness and understanding, and returning real or perceived insults and injuries with calm forgiveness. We ask this through Jesus, the Rock of our Salvation; and the Holy Spirit, the Sustainer of our souls; who live and reign with You, One God, Fount of all that is infinite and eternal. Amen.