After Tuesday’s culmination of the 2016 presidential election, many of us are left bewildered and overwhelmed. How do we give God glory in the midst of such tumult in our nation? No matter which side of the aisle our parishioners have walked, worship leaders have the responsibility to give voice to the prayers, triumphs, and grief of our people. Our role is to help people cry out to God in ways that are honest and Biblical.
First, Give Space
Like any intense situation, those who are overwhelmed by dramatic events need room to process their emotions. My own pastor and friend, Allison encouraged us today, “People are grieving, so give grace, give space, allow for venting, hurt, frustration, anger to be expressed. It’s not about a candidate as much as about a long history of words and experiences and actions “against” that makes people feel unwanted, not valued, not seen, not treated as equal, not honored for their full beauty and humanity. For many the grief is a loss of hope and it’s very personal. Regardless of what you think, people are hurting.”
Second, Guide with Scripture
When your people do not have words to articulate their thoughts and emotions, offer them the words of scriptures as “safe” guides for prayer and song. Experiment with Psalms that offer lament, hope, and solidarity. Repeat God’s promises to his people. Pray the words of Christ back to Him. (Thanks to Zac Hicks for this concept.)
Some starting points might include:
- “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1).
- “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Ps. 42:11)
- “But I trust in your unfailing love” (Ps. 13:5)
- “But you have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother.” (Ps. 131:2)
- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
- “ButI tell you,love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.…” (Matt. 5:44-45)
- “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
Third, Allow the Liturgy to Draw Us Out
In times of turmoil and doubt, it is difficult to lift our eyes to the one who gives us help. The Story of God is larger, broader, and ultimately, truer, than the story we are crafting on earth. The elements of beauty, truth, and goodness that are a part of our stories will remain, and the parts of our stories that do not align with the Kingdom will go away. Churches use the liturgy – or follow the “church year” – so that we can align communities with God’s Story, and God’s time. In the Christian year, we are about to enter the season of Advent, which offers a rich womb from which to consider the coming of Christ as a redeeming child; and ultimately the return of Christ in final victory. Though the nuances and depths of our current emotions may easily overwhelm such cosmic concepts, repeating God’s Story to one another frames our stories with hope, and seeps into our everyday moments like leaven.
A Collect for Advent
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever faithful to your promises and ever close to your Church: the earth rejoices in hope of the Savior’s coming and looks forward with longing to his return at the end of time. Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which his presence will bestow, for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.
Find other prayers and collects for Advent here.