Dear friends of St. Paul’s,
As our national leaders weigh the moral decision of whether to take military action in the conflict in Syria, we as people of faith are called to common prayer that peace will prevail and suffering will end. Each Sunday we pray for our leaders and for all those in harm’s way. In this time of national debate, it is particularly important that we hold in prayer all those whose lives will be affected by the decisions of our elected leaders.
People of all the Abrahamic faiths – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – are responding especially to Pope Francis’ call to prayer and fasting this Saturday. I am aware of many Episcopal churches and cathedrals across the country that are holding prayer vigils Saturday. However, with a football game near our church it is not practical for us to hold such a vigil in our building. But I would ask that all of us find time on Saturday to pray for peace and an end to the violence in Syria and elsewhere in our world.
I also would urge all of us to be mindful that there are people of good will and strong faith on both sides of the issue on whether to intervene militarily in Syria. We need to be respectful of each other’s viewpoints, and especially hold each other in prayer.
I also want you to know that I met privately on Thursday with U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, who represents our region in Congress. I assured him that we are praying for him, the Congress, and President Obama. I urged him to set aside political and election calculations and vote his conscience, as the Lord guides him.
I was asked to give Rep. Hurt a letter from Christian leaders in Syria representing the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, which is a member of the World Council of Churches of which we are also a part. In their letter, the Syrian Christian leaders condemned chemical attacks “that have caused immense suffering,” but they also urged military restraint. “We appeal for help to stop violence and help bring about peace and social justice – violence only breeds violence, and justice enhances life. Help the Syrians have life, life in its abundance.”
I would humbly ask that we stand together as people of faith, and that we continue to pray that God’s justice and peace will prevail here on earth.