November 10, 2016
I made a phone call today.
"Hello, Imam, let me introduce myself. I am the Rev. Philip Carr-Jones and Episcopal Priest from nearby Church of the Holy Spirit, Lebanon, NJ. I wanted you to know that if ever you needed a non-Muslim friend to stand with you or help you at the Mosque in any way at any time, please call upon me. It has been an ugly political year and you, more than others, would know this, having borne the brunt of bigotry and fear about which I am truly embarrassed for my country. I am pretty sure that many in my congregation would join me to stand, to defend, to support, and to friend you, no matter how they voted. You stand not alone, sir."
And I have meditated upon Jeremiah's Letter to the Exiles in Babylon (Chapter 29)
"These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Be wed and have sons and daughters; may your sons and daughters be married, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare . . . For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."
And a brief message to my flock
We must plant gardens and grow, and pray, and tend the cities in which our people dwell, and stand sentinel for those who stand alone. And I must place a finger on that wound which has just happened: a vulgar and mean spirit has been on display in our nation. There is no defending or justifying or explaining away what we have been through. The racism and misogyny rearing its presence at the heart of our country's civic life is horrifying. I thank God that throughout this moment, my flock - to a person regardless of their vote - has not indulged, to my knowledge, this revulsive spirit. We exorcise this spirit in the name of a Compassionate Christ. Hillary and Donald are made in the image of God worthy of our care and kindness, even - and especially even - when we find disagreement. I myself have found it particularly difficult to refrain from anxious and angry talk. Please take ever more care in your social postings and conversations to show love. I know this galls those who feel one side has been quantifiably more grotesque in displays, and chants, and t-shirts and so on. I remind you, those people are not us. We are kinder, more thoughtful, and more considerate however we choose a political side at this dangerous time. If the reservoir of your kindness has run dry, there is no better time than now to repent, to turn toward growing, to tend those needing our care, to stand sentinel at the gate and admit no hardness of heart to enter here.
And finally, pray with me:
Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of
that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their
glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth.
Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life.
Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate
poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail
with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and
women from different cultures and with differing talents may
find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer p. 825
Your Priest and Friend
Fr. Philip Carr-Jones