Wednesday, March 22, Lent Calendar* Invite: Attend Holden Evening Prayer.** Pray today for leaders locally, nationally, and globally.
For many years I was the 8th grade homeroom and religion teacher as Ascension Lutheran School. In the late spring I led the 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C. Each year I would see the same things… the monuments, the White House, the Capitol, the Library of Congress, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon. Though I had seen it all before, each year had a freshness when I saw it through students’ eyes as they experienced D.C. for the first time.
We talked a lot about leadership. We prayed for leaders. Our trips were never partisan. It wasn’t about who was in or out of office at the time. As we traveled together, a certain awe and respect for the history of democracy would arise.
Prior to our trip, we did a “newsroom unit” in our religion class that began in the setting of World War II. Students learned the names of political leaders at the time, like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. They also learned about religious leaders at the time like C.S Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It didn’t seem right at a Lutheran school for students not to learn about Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who was also a spy and in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The first person they learned about, however, was theologian Karl Barth who advised people to “take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” He believed news was so important (which today we get more from online platforms than printed paper) that he continued, “I always pray for the sick, the poor, journalists, authorities of the state and the church—in that order. Journalists form public opinion. They hold terribly important positions. Nevertheless, a theologian should never be formed by the world around him—either East or West. He should make it his vocation to show both East and West that they can live without a clash. Where the peace of God is proclaimed, there peace on earth is implicit. Have we forgotten the Christmas message?”
This Lent, we have prayed for the sick and the poor, so today let’s add leaders locally, nationally, and globally - heads of state and heads of church - as well as journalists. Journalism is very different than when I was trained as a journalist in the 1990’s. And though politics have always carried a divisiveness, it feels to me more harsh and polarized these days. As you pray for leaders today, don’t be partisan. I pray that we have leaders of integrity, wisdom, and consideration. Amen.
**Holden Evening Prayer is at 7:00 PM on Wednesdays at Ascension Lutheran Church during Lent (up until Holy Week).