Following the Prince of Peace

My heart is heavy and sad for our nation. From conversations with many of our parishioners, I have also heard their grief and worry over our country. As a people of faith, we turn to God in our moments of worry and fear knowing that God is ever present.

In a virtual prayer vigil on Wednesday night, our congregation gathered together to pray to God for healing and courage, to mourn those who were wounded and died, for all our elected leadership and those who were traumatized by the destruction at the Capitol. We also pealed the church bells into the cold dark winter night, not as a sign of mourning or a death knell for our nation, but rather a vibrant sound of our conviction that God is still with us.

As followers of Jesus who sought peace, we condemn all violence but this week we most particularly condemn the violence which erupted in our nation’s Capitol on Wednesday afternoon as a threat to our shared values as a democratic nation. We are called to recognize that these actions threaten all our desires for justice equality, and a peaceful nation, while further breaking open the deep divide we face as a country.

I am so very mindful that these horrific events of violence happened on the Feast of Epiphany, the last day of our Christmastide celebration. It is the day when we remember that the violent desire of Herod to maintain power included slaughtering innocent children when he felt threatened by Jesus, the new born King. It is a stark reminder that the human desire for power and control can come at an incredibly deep cost to innocent people. Yet importantly Epiphany is a feast day when we celebrate that the Light manifest in Jesus would overcome the darkness and that the Prince of Peace would reign in our hearts and minds, guiding us into action of love and care for all.

As the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Michael Curry often says “if it’s not about love, it’s not about God.” Our nation and community need the light of love to shine through in these dark days. May you all be guided to share and spread that love to help in the healing of our nation.

The Rev. Stephanie Johnson is the Rector of St. Paul’s Church in Riverside.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: We have asked our spiritual community to share their thoughts after a difficult year and the turmoil in Washington last week. We are putting these online as we receive them and will print them in next week’s paper.

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