Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Collect For a Troubled Nation


God of justice and mercy, who delivered your people from the oppression of Pharaoh, protect us from greed, ignorance, and malevolence in our political leaders, and help us make our nation one of peace, liberty, and justice, in harmony with your creation and exhibiting the love of Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Reasoning (a fellow Episcopalian wrote this prayer):

I wrote a prayer and requested criticism of it from two Episcopalian groups on Facebook. The numerous comments I received in response caused me to make many small changes to the text. The Facebook comments mostly concerned (1) from whom or what was protection being sought and (2) the degree to which the prayer might be acceptable to most Episcopalians, regardless of political sympathies.

Some friends worried that my original text disparaged all politicians or government generally. The revised text attempts to characterize the “bad” political actors without casting aspersions on all politicians.

Admittedly, the tenor of the prayer suggests that all is not well with our government, but the text still admits of some Anglican ambiguity. (Cf. “Protect us from President Donald Trump and his evil minions.”) Even people who approve of the recent sharp turn to the right represented by the advent of the Trump administration do not, I hope, condone greed, ignorance, and malice. Nor, I suspect, do they object to peace, liberty, justice, and protection of the environment. (Well, the environment thing might be controversial. Perhaps people can agree in principle, if not always in specific instances.)

I believe my prayer would cheer many Episcopalians without driving others from the church. The Church must, I think, stand for some things, even if agreement falls short of 100%.

Finally, I note that my prayer is in the form of a collect, which is a form within which I am comfortable writing. Its main virtues are succinctness and a singular focus. (Cf. Prayer #18.) Of course, collects are more appropriate in some contexts than others.

I hope that individuals may find this prayer useful in their private devotions. Perhaps there are churches—brave ones, I suppose—that will find a use for my collect as well. I welcome comments and suggestions on this project. I hope people will not find it mean-spirited, but I leave that to others to evaluate...
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