Already, in less than a week, there have been so many words spoken and written about what happened last Wednesday in the insurrectionist attack on our nation’s capitol building. Words of anger, words of sorrow, words of accusation and blame, words of denial, words that sought to excuse, words that tried to explain. But as I seek to write this pastor’s column on the Monday following the attack, I find I have no words left. So I turned to a favorite scripture. The Apostle Paul writing to the church at Rome offered these words to people who (like me) aren’t exactly sure what to say or pray:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8: 26-28)
Right now, when I have run out of words of my own, I find that the Holy Spirit is speaking to me through the wise words of others. First an excerpt from the statement that my friend and colleague Marci Glass shared with her congregation Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco last Sunday. Her words capture so much of what I am feeling but can’t find the words to express:
While the events of this [past]week have revealed truths about our country we’d prefer were lies, we can choose to change. We can choose hope. We can choose to reckon with our past, our systemic racism, our broken politics, and we can choose to write a different story for our country. I pray we can heed the lessons of this week, and learn some bitter truths so we can build a better union. I pray we can set aside the differences that have divided us in order to claim the higher ideals we claim we hold— justice for all, equality before the law, and freedom that gives life and hope for all people.
When people advocate violence, we can continue to work for peace. When people sow division, we can continue to seek the common welfare.
Finally, a favorite quote from nineteenth century clergyman Edward Everett Hale: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
We can all do something. In our own small way, we can all do something. In the midst of the temptation to despair, we can all do something.