January 19, 2017

Open Doors

What are you doing on Friday during the inauguration?

More importantly, what will your church do?

Many of us have probably read about the debates within the Episcopal Church: Should we pray for the president-elect by name? Should Washington National Cathedral host the inaugural prayer service? Should the cathedral choir sing?

People of deep faith and strongly held convictions have expressed a variety of answers to these questions. I am not going to offer my opinion here. It isn’t the place.

Instead, I’ll repeat the question: On Inauguration Day, what will your church do?

Every congregation has people who both support Donald Trump and despise him. Every congregation has people who wept for Hillary Clinton’s loss and celebrated. Many congregations will have people who travel to Washington, D.C., some for the inauguration and others for the Women’s March or other protests.

What’s happening in Washington is worthy of serious discussion, and these conversations won’t be easy, especially with the pervasive attitude of “you’re either with us or against us.” We need—we must—talk with one another about what’s happening in our country.

But I’m wondering if our conversation on Friday should be directed not toward each other, but with God.

What if our churches opened their doors on Friday for prayer? What if the invitation was for anyone and everyone to come? Red and blue. Trump supporters and haters. Members of the Pantsuit Nation and the Make America Great Again faction. What if the doors were simply open and all were invited to spend time in prayer? Isn’t our God bigger than all of this Sturm und Drang?

The invitation for prayer must not be prejudiced. It can’t read, “Come pray because our nation’s going down the drain with Trump.” Nor can it read, “Forget about your concerns and pray because Trump is president and there’s nothing you can do about it. Support him and move on.”

Neither attitude is helpful or respectful to people who feel worried, wounded, excited, or victorious.

Open the doors. Light a few candles. Give space for people to pray what’s weighing their hearts. We don’t have to second-guess or stage-manage the outcome. God can handle that.