This morning it was my turn to lead Morning Prayer for our diocesan staff cohort. And on this morning — one we hope is near the end of the middle of the longest election cycle in the history of voting — I won the Lectionary Lottery with propers celebrating William Temple.
So we began with this Collect:
O God of light and love, who illumined your Church through the witness of your servant William Temple: Inspire us, we pray, by his teaching and example, that we may rejoice with courage, confidence, and faith in the Word made flesh, and may be led to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
And read this lesson from Exodus (22:21–27) appointed for the day:
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.
If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. If you take your neighbour’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbour’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbour cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.
And then we reflected on what it is to build a city with justice for its foundation and love for its law.
And what it means to be part of a human family where wronging and oppressing resident aliens is as tragically old as our most ancient scriptural texts and where economic exploitation of the poor is not something that just got invented by a particular president or party.
And we pondered what it means to be part of that arc of history that bends toward God’s justice — especially in moments when the forces working to bend it the other way are active, energized and palpable.
And then we turned to Bishop Steven Charleston for a Word — and as usual, he came through:
Show me what I can do to help, Spirit,
show me what I can do.
You know me.
You know my strengths and my weaknesses.
You know my heart and my mind.
You know my story.
Come into my life as it is, Spirit,
come in and show me where
I can use my talents to make a difference.
There is so much to be done,
so much healing, so much rebuilding,
so many challenges for so many people.
I don’t want to stand on the sidelines.
I want to do something positive.
I want to do my share.
So show me where I can help,
whether it is deeper into commitments
I have already made,
or working for change in ways I never expected.
You are calling us to a new beginning
after this election.
You are giving us the ability to become
something better than we have been.
Let me be part of that with you, Spirit.
Show me what I can do to help.
Wishing you stength for the journey, hope for the future and safety in the struggle — this morning and in all the days ahead. La lucha continua.
The Reverend Canon Susan Russell is the Canon for Engagement Across Difference in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.