South Carolina Episcopalians
An Independent Journal of News & Commentary for Anglicans
not affiliated with ACNA, the Episcopal Church or its dioceses
June 2, 2018
I will NOT be Praying for the Justices on June 7th
U.S. Supreme Court will consider Breakaways' request to hear their appeal
A number of years ago, a Sunday morning lay reader at a Charleston parish included a prayer for the U.S. Supreme Court in her rendition of the Prayers of the People. The justices had an upcoming case related to abortion.
But after familiar Lord, Hear our prayer, the lay reader just couldn't leave it alone, and went rogue on the Book of Common Prayer.
Calling out the three most liberal justices, she reminded the Almighty they were old and would not be missed should they just happen to rise in glory prior to the upcoming vote.
That was when I decided I'd no longer pray for judges.
Let’s face it. No matter how high-minded or gingerly-worded our prayers in cases like these, there's always that frantic little voice in a dark corner of our heart wailing away: O God, please, O please, don’t let us lose this case!
God's Will be Done ... and Mine
This Thursday the justices will consider whether to hear an appeal of last year's state Supreme Court ruling, rejecting the claims of former Bishop Mark Lawrence and his followers that they could leave the Episcopal Church with their parish property and the corporate Diocese of South Carolina itself.
There are few Episcopalians - former, current, or future - without some angst around what could happen.
At some point in the last five-plus years of this case, everyone with a dog in this fight has prayed or fasted in hopes of summoning up God’s Will for their cause.
Then, when things didn’t turn out like we wanted, we went crazy, attacking the judges and denouncing the decisions.
Admit it, none of us was willing to even consider that may be God’s Will WAS done... and it was the exact opposite of what we thought it should be.
God did not file a brief in this case
However, the reason I won’t be praying for the Court on Thursday is that I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care about what happens there.
God's dog in this fight has long since been defeated and euthanized.
The breakaway crowd has largely been on life support (with a few notable exceptions). They have lost members and revenues they can't replace. They are not bringing in new people like they thought they would. Somehow, they've discovered, they're not even in the Anglican Communion any more.
Loyal Episcopalians - while growing in numbers - are far from having the resources they'd need to reclaim the greatness of the Christian witness that was once the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Very soon they could become the reluctant owners of millions of dollars in half-filled parish properties, many with heavy mortgages, leaky roofs, and other headaches.
Enemies & Persecutors
While I will not be praying on Thursday, I do plan to get up a little early and read the Fifth Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew to remind me where God is in all this.
When I get to Verses 43-45, I'll slow down -- maybe gag a bit -- and imagine them to be Jesus literally having a Come-to-Jesus moment with that frantic voice in my heart... and perhaps, maybe, I'll find some peace around all this.
- Steve Skardon
PS... Okay, I might give in and try the prayer suggested by Bishop Mark Lawrence:
Almighty God, Judge and Redeemer of the world, send upon all courts of justice, and especially the Supreme Court of the United States and its justices, a spirit of wisdom, understanding, and discernment; grant that they may rightly and impartially interpret and administer the law; through him who shall come to be our Judge, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
And then the one by Bishop Skip Adams:
Gracious and loving God of justice and compassion: We pray for your church caught in a crushing schism in South Carolina. We believe that you favor reconciliation in all situations; and we ask you to be with all parties involved in the case. We pray especially for the Justices and the attorneys: surround them all with your love and your truth; and bring this process to a just conclusion. Give all of us strength and courage to act and pray in ways that can lead toward reconciliation. Help us be agents of your reconciliation with our friends on both sides of this dispute. We ask all this in the Name of the Holy Reconciler, Jesus your Son. Amen
sus your Son. AmenType your paragraph here.