Many are troubled following the elections. Many lament the times. But, “the troubles” did not begin with this presidential campaign: national politics has long been devolving into ever deeper division, dissonance, and dysfunction. Unmistakably, however, our national political process has reached a new low. It is hard to find words to describe what is happening without joining the madness and meanness. When a presidential candidate flaunts abusive language, and calls for violent actions that elicit an outpouring of support, we know something deeply troubling is happening in our country.
I wrote the following liturgy as a former political organizer. Even more, I wrote as a pastor with four decades of politically engaged Mennonite pastoral and peace ministry in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Seattle. Most of all I wrote because I love my family, my church, and my deeply divided country.
May God grant us grace and wisdom to face these troubled times.
Weldon D. Nisly
Seattle, Washington, USA
Live Thanksgiving in Troubled Times
Our hearts are troubled this Thanksgiving season.
Our country has been shaken,
And many are afraid.
Yet Jesus’ words echo in our hearts:
“Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:28
Following Jesus means listening to troubled hearts,
means living beyond fear,
means giving thanks, not spreading hatred.
We confess that our country has become enmeshed in an internal war where words have become weapons, where feelings have been inflamed by vulgarity and scapegoating, where some would rather build a wall than strive to know our neighbors.
We confess that we fear what is to come–actions that will increase suffering for vulnerable people, actions that will validate violence and vilify immigrants, actions that will pillage creation and plunder the earth.
Where does Jesus say, “Do nothing”?
Where does Jesus say, “Do violence”?
Instead Jesus says, “Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
What then are we to do with troubled hearts?
We will give thanks.
We give thanks that God created all things and created all people in God’s image.
We give thanks that this troubled time deepens our call to the common good.
We give thanks that we can speak truth to power:
We give thanks and we will act.
We will listen to and lament what troubles our hearts.
We will speak up for vulnerable and victimized people.
We will confront violent enmity with nonviolent love.
We will listen to those who differ with us without letting our listening normalize violence.
We will join others in acts of mercy.
We will bear witness to Jesus’ love without fear.
This is our invitation this troubled Thanksgiving.
Do not be too troubled to give thanks.
Do not be too afraid to Live Thanksgiving.