It seems that each week this summer brings news of more troubles, more examples of man’s inhumanity to man. This past week was no different, with mass killings in the beautiful French Riviera; an attempted military coup in Turkey, a NATO ally, with perhaps a thousand dead; and in our own country the killing of three more policemen, this time in Louisiana. This week and next are on the calendar as weeks when we can experience the grass roots processes of our republic in action, as our two major political parties put together their plans for our future, plans which will compete on what we all hope will be the peaceful field of democratic elections this fall.
The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer has guidance for just about every occasion. Here are three suggested prayers that seem appropriate to our thinking about democracy in troubled times. All are very Christian prayers and end with a solicitation for help through Jesus Christ; but all are prayers that could be used by any religion, indeed by any individual – including Conventioneers – looking for guidance in weeks such as these.
For the Oppressed: Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land.
For those in the Armed Forces of our Country (which to me includes our First Responders, police and firefighters): Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be.
For those who Influence Public Opinion (we will see a lot of that during these political conventions): Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous.
It is summer, a time of magnificent beauty in a rural county like ours, of abundant fresh fruits and vegetables that surround us in warm days and cooling rains. Let us hope that this week will be different from the last few weeks, and allow each of us both the will and the time to consider what is wheat and what is chaff, and paraphrasing the 17th century poet Robert Herrick, to “gather the rosebuds while we may.” Perhaps this will be a week of good news, news of peaceful progress throughout the nation and across the world. I hope our Advertiser readers will keep these thoughts in mind this week and next as we watch and (for some Edgefieldians) participate in our Republican and Democratic Party Conventions, and that we can at the end congratulate one another on a job well done.