A Very Present Help in Trouble

by | Jan 7, 2021

The Lord is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved 
and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea 
Though its waters rage and foam, and through the mountains tremble at its tumult.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Psalm 46

Dearly Beloved of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington,

With heavy hearts, we are all still absorbing what happened on January 6 in our nation’s capital, and for many of us, our home city. We find ourselves reaching out to those we love, no matter where they are, and receiving calls of concern from around the country. It’s an understandable response, given what’s happened. 

That is my purpose for writing today: to let you know that I am here, praying for you and your loved ones; and in particular, for your well-being and physical safety. 

I am praying for all whose work requires them to be in public spaces in the midst of the pandemic and continued unrest, and for those experiencing homelessness in our city, with few options for safe haven. I am praying in gratitude for all in our diocese who are first responders, who serve in the federal workforce; for hospital personnel, social workers, and teachers. I know that we are united in prayers for our nation.   

Washington, DC is no stranger to civic protest. Members of our congregations are among the first to offer hospitality and welcome, even to protesters with whom they disagree. We cherish the political freedom enshrined in our US Constitution guaranteeing the right of all Americans to express dissenting opinions in the public square. 

That is not what we witnessed on January 6. We saw an attempted insurrection and desecration of the United States Capitol and what it symbolizes, encouraged by the President himself. We also witnessed a notably different response on the part of law enforcement as compared to the way protesters last summer were treated. Had the majority of yesterday’s gathering been people of color, there is little doubt that the outcome would have been much different.  

A word of profound thanks to diocesan clergy and lay leaders who virtually gathered their communities in prayer last evening. Please continue to offer such opportunities. As the Church, we need to be together in prayer. 

For our part, Dean Randy Hollerith and I will offer a brief prayer service from Washington National Cathedral each evening at 5:00 p.m. from now until Inauguration Day, January 20. We will be joined by interfaith leaders across the diocese. If you’d like to join in these prayers, please follow this link.  

Among the more disturbing images of the last few days has been the grievous misappropriation of the Christian faith. It must be said by all who claim to follow Jesus as Lord that there was nothing Christian about what happened at the US Capitol. Those who claim the mantle of Jesus for such deeds and the worldview that justified them do great damage not only to themselves, but the witness of the Christian faith. 

We are called to show another way, the way of love, to so embody love that others may see in us something of the mercy and goodness we have known in Jesus. May God’s love so fill your hearts, so inspire your minds, so gently touch your wounds with healing grace that you may know, without a doubt, that you are precious in God’s sight. 

And may God grant us all wisdom and courage for the living of this hour.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Bishop Mariann