Yesterday in worship, I preached on a new heaven and a new earth, and how God might remember and honor the depth of human suffering, even though “the former things will pass away” (Is. 65:17). I chose to let the text take me where the text would lead. Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and the stirrings of my people’s hearts and mine will continue to direct my sermon content.
Yet, I also devoted a great deal of care to the crafting of the following invocation, in light of the events of the past week. I am reprinting it here, in order for people to see my hopes for the church, as we navigate the turbulent waters of our time, and do so as disciples of the one who has gone ahead of us, to prepare a place for us… (Jn. 14:3):
Almighty God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, gather us to yourself in this hour, alight on us with your holy and life-giving Spirit, and move our hearts and the hearts of our nation to embrace a common life together. In the wake of our national election, wherever hatred persists or bitterness endures, bring peace. Wherever divisions occur, bring healing. Whenever walls arise between us, bring them crashing down. Guide our officials and representatives to faithfulness and wisdom, that the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes. But make of us a people, humble in heart, peaceable, and gentle. Make of your church a sparkling city on a hill, where the light of truth and justice shines, and darkness cannot overcome it. In these years to come, strengthen the members of First Baptist Church of Asheville to be courageous disciples, bearers of the fruits of your Spirit, ambassadors of reconciliation, peacemakers in this city and beyond, that we may be repairers of the breach… Amen.