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An Important Message from the Dean

01.06.21 | by The Very Reverend Barkley S. Thompson

An Important Message from the Dean

    Dear Cathedral Family and Friends,

    Today we have witnessed unprecedented scenes of civil unrest at the United States Capitol Building, even as one of the most important rituals in our democracy — the certification of the vote of the Electoral College — was underway. Protests descended into anarchy and violence, and our elected representatives and senators were evacuated under duress for their protection. It is the first time that the U.S. Capitol has been breached by assailants since the War of 1812. The Capitol is the people’s house. It is a preeminent symbol of our democracy. To see it under threat is among the most distressing images one can imagine.

    This afternoon the Cathedral staff gathered, both virtually and in person in the Cathedral, and Canon Vicar Kathy Pfister led us in prayer. We prayed for our government, for our elected representatives, for the law enforcement officers serving on Capitol Hill, for our whole human family, and for guidance. As we prayed, I was reminded of the words of President Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address:

    “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

    I continue to pray that Lincoln’s vision, cast in the midst of an earlier era of civil rancor and unrest, will find purchase in our imaginations and our lives. Especially in times of distress, we must nurture those mystic chords of memory. In voice and action, we must remain in relationship with one another. Importantly, we must also honor and defend the mechanisms of our democracy that have ensured the safe and peaceful transfer of power from one presidency to another for more than two centuries.

    Most importantly of all, we must remember that our hope is not ultimately in human beings or human institutions. Our hope is in the God who creates us in love and who redeems all things. The First Song of Isaiah reminds us:

    Surely, it is God who saves me;
      I will trust in God and not be afraid.
    For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,
      and God will be my Savior.

    May God bless, redeem, and preserve the United States of America, and may God spur the United States to live ever-further into the ideal of creating a more perfect union, establishing justice and liberty for all its people.

    Grace and peace,
    The Very Reverend Barkley Thompson

    A Prayer for the Nation, from the Book of Common Prayer, page 820
    Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.