There’s lots of noise out there right now, isn’t there? Some of it is noise that needs to be made. In fact, it’s long overdue noise. Other noise has been around for a long, long time. . . but hasn’t been heard as it should. . . but finally, perhaps. Other noise is just that. . . noise.
Truth be told, I’ve struggled with the pressure to add to the noise in order to simply be heard. I believe that our social media-saturated world has convinced us that immediate responses are required. . . a practice that derails thoughtful listening, questioning, conversation, and self-evaluation on the part of those who most need to first listen, question, converse, and self-evaluate. What too often results from our haste is something less than the kind of action and change that the Gospel requires. Instead, we’ve come to be satisfied with the horrid practice of virtue signaling through our posted words and photos. If we think that’s enough, we are wrong. And shouldn’t we also question even those posts that brag up our involvement. . . (“look at me here, what I was doing there, and with this person”)? Could it be that we are no better than the Pharisees who Jesus called out for boasting out loud and trumpeting in public when the left hand shouldn’t even know what the right hand is doing?
Please don’t get me wrong. . . social media can and should be used to educate, to inform, to encourage, and even to correct. . . and many are using it in this way now. I just fear that I (we) could so easily get swept up into responding to situations that do indeed demand a response in ways that are less than helpful to both ourselves and those who need our help. The deceiver not only loves it when a society is divided, but he loves it when our efforts to undo the divisions divide us even further from our God, each other, and ourselves.
As we continue to navigate the issues with a desire to do so in ways that bring glory to God, I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 124:8 – “Our help in in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
So, if I can add anything to the conversation at this point, it would be a simple reminder. . . to myself and to others. . . to seek the help of our Almighty God through prayer. If you are unfamiliar with The Book Of Common Prayer, perhaps these prayers will help you as you pray in these difficult days. . .
A prayer for cities, towns, and other communities:
Heavenly Father, you sent your Son among us to proclaim
the kingdom of God in cities, towns, villages, and lonely
places. Behold and visit, we pray, the community of ________.
Renew the bonds of charity that uphold our civic life. Send
us honest and able leaders. Deliver us from poverty, prejudice,
and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and
justice with mercy. And at the last, bring us to your Holy City,
the new Jerusalem, where we shall know perfect unity and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A prayer for the human family:
O God, you made us in your own image, and you have redeemed
us through your Son Jesus Christ: Look with compassion on the
whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us
in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion
to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time,
all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your
heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A prayer for social justice:
Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us
grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace
with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the
establishment of justice in our communities and among the
nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ
our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A prayer in times of social conflict or distress:
Increase, O God, the spirit of neighborliness among us, that
in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend to one
another, and in homelessness, loneliness, or exile befriend
one another. Grant us brave and enduring hearts that we may
strengthen one another, until the disciplines and testing of these
days are ended, and you again give peace in our time; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.