To the Church in Exile,
The peace of Christ be with you. Today’s daily lectionary reading is Psalm 146:
1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,
6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
This psalm of praise invites us to put our trust in the Lord. It is dripping with the marvels of the God we have, that one can hardly imagine not praising the Lord. Our God is the one who made heaven and earth, who keeps faith, executes justice for the oppressed, feeds the hungry, sets the prisoners free, opens the eyes of the blind, who watches over the immigrant and upholds the orphan and widow.
This God of the margins merits our trust completely.
In contrast, the psalmist warns us not to put our trust in princes or leaders:
3 Don’t trust leaders;
don’t trust any human beings—
there’s no saving help with them!
4 Their breath leaves them,
then they go back to the ground.
On that very same day,
their plans die too. (Common English Bible)
We can resonate with this. Even with a lot of competent leaders in our country from CEO’s, educators, health and government officials, we are often let down by mismanagement and incompetence. But we’re still in a quandary here. Right now, in any place in our world, we need our leaders and must rely on them. We have to put some weight on their leadership. Thankfully, there are a lot of shining lights and moments of careful grace. Still there’s plenty of leadership characterized by dividing as opposed to uniting, and claiming authority while shirking responsibility. How can we put our weight on that?
Maybe the question is not about where we put our weight but really about who we pray for. I want to encourage you to be praying for our leaders. In my morning prayers, I pray for everyone in my family and offer the Lord’s prayer. Later in the day I have prayer time for elders, staff, and members of the congregation. Before the Lord’s prayer in the morning, I pray for President Trump and congress, Governor Inslee and the state legislature, Mayor Durkan and the city council. Lately I’ve included the King County health department. It’s often quick and very brief, but sometimes I have specific petitions for different officials.
Will you join me in lifting these leaders to God? I know in Seattle we all have opinions about our president, a few of our city council members, and of course, the mayor. And? So what. As Christians we don’t just pray for people we like, or have you forgotten Jesus’ instructions on prayer? (Matthew 5:44)
Let’s put our trust in the one who is worthy of our ultimate faith, and that is none other than the God of the margins. Let’s pray to this God that our Lord may influence our leaders to execute justice to the oppressed, care for the widow, orphan, and immigrant, liberate the prisoners, bring healing to the sick and broken, and give food to the hungry.
Lord, listen to the cries of your people. Hear our cares as we bring them to you. Take our praise and our petitions and work them into your rule and will. Bring up there down here. Give us the food we need today. Forgive us and give us the power to forgive. Rescue us from temptation; liberate us from the evil one. You are the King, the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen.
Peace in Christ,
Doug Kelly, Senior Pastor
Bethany Presbyterian Church
(206) 284-2222, x11