It’s been a hard week, and I don’t expect that to end anytime soon.
I live in the most diverse neighborhood in the country. I have friends and neighbors who are afraid for their lives and their families. I’m afraid for them, too. One friend who lives a few blocks from me said she wants to wrap our neighborhood up in bubble wrap, to protect them. There’s a lot I’d love to protect us all from right now.
And I come from Trump country. I worked for a Republican in the “Gingrich Revolution” over twenty years ago. I know that many family and old friends may have voted for Trump while still disgusted by his character and words. And I know that many of them felt this kind of fear eight years ago.
Fear doesn’t have to be rational to be real.
The outward expression of my faith has changed over the past decade and a half. It doesn’t look the way it used to in many ways. Following Jesus called me down different paths than many of my family and friends who also love and follow Jesus.
I trust him with that.
And I pray. I tell him my fears and doubts and hopes and wishes and loves. And I do my best to listen.
I pray, “Thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, even if I’m missing it altogether.” I pray, “I believe; help my unbelief!” I pray, “Father, forgive them – they don’t know what they are doing.” And sometimes, “Father, forgive them, even though they know exactly what they are doing.” I pray “Lord, have mercy!” and “Help!” a lot. And I breathe, “Thank you!”
As an only child and life-long single, who else would I talk to most of the time? I can’t ever remember not talking to Jesus. It seems he likes listening to my stuff, and he can handle my anger and doubts.
There are a lot of people talking about praying this week. And they’re not wrong – those of us who pray should be praying, for ourselves and others and for our leaders.
But we shouldn’t let our praying hold us back from doing.
Yes, everything is in God’s hands, but he’s seen fit to put a great many things in ours. Jesus prayed to sustain himself for the work. He prayed and did stuff. And he told us that after he was gone, we would do even greater things. Then he left, and now we are called “his body.”
We have a lot of his work to do. Proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind. Set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18).
For followers of Jesus, that’s our work. Whoever you voted for, this is your work.
Too many of our neighbors got a very clear message this week from white Christian America: we don’t want you. Just because that’s not what you believe or how you feel doesn’t mean that’s not the message we sent.
We’ve got a lot of work to do.
Stand with those being attacked – even if you think they’re wrong. Jesus did (John 8:1-11). Really listen to the disadvantaged, and be willing to let them change your mind (Matthew 15:21-28). Hang out with people who would never be comfortable in church. Speak up for those who are on the margins of your community. Look around – who’s missing? Find them (Luke 15).
Don’t just pray for them. Don’t just pray about it. Do the work.