Dear Communicants of the Diocese of Louisiana,
I watched with interest as President Trump stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, holding up a Bible. This followed his statement from the Rose Garden that he was our “president of law and order.”
Somehow this statement and this photo-op did not make sense to me. The Bible describes God’s love for all of God’s creation. From beginning to end, the Bible tells how God’s love is the foundation for our existence. Mr. Trump’s rhetoric of law and order juxtaposed against these scriptures of love baffled me. I have since wondered: what was Mr. Trump trying to say in this photo op? I honestly do not know. One thing I am sure of is that he missed an opportunity to connect with the American people who are in need of words of hope, encouragement, and healing.
I served in the Marine Corps and was privileged to serve under and learn from many capable people. Leadership is about listening and being aware of those who serve under you. Leadership is about building others up when they face great odds and giving people courage to meet their hardships. Where can we find this kind of leadership?
I Kings 19 tells the story of Jezebel attempting to kill Elijah. He is fearful for his life and so he runs away to Horeb. God instructs Elijah to go stand on the mountain and wait for God to pass by. So he does. First, there is a great wind but God is not in the wind. Next, there is an earthquake but God is not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there is a fire but God is not in the fire. Following all of this, Elijah experiences sheer silence. It is in this silence where Elijah meets God.
We find ourselves in the midst of so much chaos: COVID-19, the absence of being able to gather together for worship, another senseless killing of a black man by a policeman, and peaceful demonstrations that have transformed into burning cars and buildings. There are now two storms in the Gulf potentially headed for Louisiana. Where can we find God in all of this disorder?
I believe that God is found in the silence of our hearts. No matter how out of control these days may seem, God is in the midst of it all.
What do you hear your heart speaking to you? Are you able to release your anger for a moment and listen? Can you step away from your frustrations so that you can kneel at the throne of grace and weep? To seek a word of hope? A word of healing? I do not know where these moments will take us but I do know from experience that in the midst of darkness God is present. Do not believe for one moment that you are alone or that all is in vain. The God who delivered Elijah, the God who saw the Israelites through to the Promised Land, the God who raised Christ from the dead will also see us through. This is God’s gift to you and to me.
Take courage, my friends. God is in the midst of us.
I am as always
Your Servant in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr.
Bishop of Louisiana