June 2, 2020
In the recent months, we have collectively experienced a trauma as we have faced the realities of a global pandemic. Often, a traumatic event is short in duration; a car wreck, a violent incident, an invasion of privacy. However, because this trauma has spanned months, we easily underestimate the toll that it has taken on us relationally. In the initial weeks, we all banded together and helped one another face all the challenges that we were experiencing. There was an increase of kindness, helpfulness and common bonding. But as is true of trauma, as time passes, we realize that we each have different coping strategies, different defense mechanisms, and different fears. We are moving into a phase where these differences can tear us apart, where our fears will drive us and our anger can destroy us. In some ways, the earlier stages of trauma are easier because there is often unity and camaraderie against a common foe or challenge. But as time passes, we begin to project our fears and loss and anger and uncertainty onto others. We vilify others in an attempt to make sense of our own pain. Love and sacrifice seem much easier at the point of trauma, but are so much harder as time takes its toll on our resources and resolve.
Our collective fears and anger also re-expose long-standing trauma; the systems and sins that have plagued our nation for generations. In recent weeks, our nation’s racial issues have jumped to the forefront causing outrage, anger, defensiveness, protests, and riots. The circumstances around the homicides of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and George Floyd in Minnesota, along with countless others, prompt us to act. We grieve and mourn alongside the communities, friends, and families whose lives have been turned upside down by these incidents, and invite our congregation to do the same. We are called to listen to stories of injustice, to reflect on our own participation in unjust systems, and to pray for healing. We are compelled by faith to engage in the work of justice, reconciliation, and love.
As the weeks and months unfold in the layers of our nation’s trauma, we think it is likely that divisions, hostilities, sadness, and rage will continue to increase, unless the Holy Spirit’s gift of love moves us in this time to be righteous peacemakers. This is the time when grace and mercy are a precious commodity. This is the time when love will not only be a needed salve, but will be a healing cure.
We offer a prayer for ourselves and our community, and hope you will join us as agents of change:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
And since you have called us Your children, children who bear Your name, help us to live up to the name we bear. Help us to live to a higher standard; one established by Your precepts. Take us beyond our collective view of morality to a standard that is reflective of Your sacred name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
May love infuse our rhetoric.
May grace guide our responses.
May courage inspire our actions.
Help us to constructively call out sin, first in ourselves and then in the actions around us, so that the hindrances to Your kingdom will be removed.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
May we feast on Your forgiveness, and then share the feast with others.
May we savor the flavor of the bread of Your grace; may it break our pride and arrogance so that we might become a vessel of forgiveness that will feed the hunger of thousands of others.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
We are tempted to yell at what we perceive are the evils in others while avoiding or ignoring the evil in ourselves. As painful as it might be, Lord, expose and deliver us from our own shameful bigotry, our gender biases that we conveniently ignore, our racist thoughts that we quickly justify, our arrogant consumption that harms others, our lustful tendencies that we think are hidden, and our convenient silence that leaves the hurting isolated and alone. Deliver us from our own evil and lead us to a better place. Please turn our fear into faith, our tears into trust and our anger into action.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Thank you for the privilege of living in this country, but remind us regularly that we are first and forever citizens of Your kingdom.
Take away power from those who misuse or abuse it, and take away influence from those who seek their own glory. Help us to use the power You have entrusted to us to glorify You and honor others.
The SDFC Staff
Pastor Dee Kelley
Pastor Matt Wilson