The most recent service that was aired by St. John’s, the Episcopal Church that President Trump walked to on Monday afternoon from the White House was Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost. He had troops tear gas peaceful protestors to get to the church yard with his entourage while it was all being filmed. Can I tell you how much this hurts me as a life-long Episcopalian?
Then the president of the United States stood in front of one of the most historic churches of my denomination in the country, holding up a book he made sure we knew was a Bible and not say, the Book of Common Prayer that an Episcopalian might carry to a church service. (Usually there are plenty in the backs of pews, along with hymnals.) I have my own combination prayer book and hymnal, which I treasure, and it has come in very handy now that our church is meeting on-line.
Pentecost is the Sunday in our church year that commemorates the 50th day following Easter, when Jesus returns and breathes the Holy Spirit into his followers and when we are each reminded of the gifts of the spirit that we have been given by God’s grace to make the world a better place. (This is the same Jesus whose only commandment to the apostles, and thus the rest of us, was to love God and love one another as he loved us.)
St. John’s Rector Rob Fisher’s ten minute homily (in these Zoom church times the shorter sermons are best) was about the power and meaning of words, ancient and modern, and a call for healing, both physical, for the virus- and spiritual- the on-going and recently reignited trauma of racism and injustice in America, and the grief over the police killing George Floyd, specifically.
We must “acknowledge the need for healing, and the call for each of us to be healers,” the rector of St. John’s said, and “find ways not just with words, but with actions, to be healers.”
Before the homily, Episcopalians from Alaska to Alabama renewed our baptismal vows to strive for justice and peace, and respect the diginity of every human being (it was one of those Sundays when we do this.)
Too bad the president went to church on Monday instead of Sunday.