September 16, 2019
By Shepard Parsons.
Rev. Shepard Parsons the pastor of the First Church of Christ, Woodbridge going on six years now, and is blessed to have served congregations in Hartford, Waterbury, New Haven, Milford and Shelton as well. Every day he is grateful to God to be the husband of Karen Klein and father of Eli (13), Iris (16) and Charis (23). He worries about finances, prays for all whose work is to lance and heal the wounds of the World and looks forward with hope to Jesus’ coming realm of love and justice.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For
there is one God;
there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself a ransom for all
—this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
I’m a 63 year old white man who has been living in New Haven since 1981. One evening several years ago I was sent on an errand downtown to pick up some take out. I was driving through an African American neighborhood struggling to maintain its dignity despite the poverty, violence and racism that makes life there so hard. I was lost in thought, wondering where I would park, when a man on a bicycle came flying out of a side street. Without thinking I swerved . . . . and then heard a sickening thud. The car behind me hit the man. I’m ashamed to say my impulse was to speed up and get out of there, but the Spirit intervened. I pulled over down the street and ran back to the corner. A young man from across the street and I arrived at the same time and knelt next to the unconscious man. We checked his pulse.
Having heard the accident, neighbors quickly gathered around us to see what happened. An air of concern and compassion quickly turned to heated anger as a white teenager from the suburbs left his mini van and began yelling that it wasn’t his fault. The more the boy proclaimed his innocence the more agitated the crowd became. The anger and fear surrounding us was like a static charge about to spark. I knew someone was going get hurt. Just then, the young man kneeling across the injured man looked at me and said in a loud voice, “Let’s pray!” Immediately the scene became still and silent. When came the “amen” our little part of the world had been changed. Instantly the neighbors turned their attention once again to the injured man, the teenager began to cry, and the unconscious man moaned just as the police showed up. After speaking with the officer making the report I went back to my car and picked up our Indian food. I learned the next day from the paper the injured man spent the night in the hospital for observation and then was discharged.
In this week’s passage from First Timothy the writer urges the community offer supplications, prays, intercessions and thanksgivings for all people, even kings and government officials, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” Yet, in the following verses the men of the church are told to lift up their holy hands in prayer in every place without anger or argument . . . while the women are told to be silent and become visibly invisible. For whom were the men to be praying? The writer says everyone. And for what were they to be praying? That they may live peaceable lives in godliness and dignity. Tell me, where’s the dignity in oppressing anyone or the peace in silencing their voices? Understandably, for many this chapter, this book, even the Bible itself is irredeemable. Perhaps, 1 Timothy 2:1-7 is the Holy Spirit’s smudge on the text, an interpretive moment in which the following might be read and judged. It also reminds me that when we pray for others we are also praying for ourselves.
These days when I drive downtown from home and pass that intersection I often recall that evening. I don’t exactly remember the prayer that was spoken that night over the injured man on the corner in a neighborhood of my beloved New Haven. I do recall the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit with us. Perhaps it was a pastoral prayer. As the young man prayed for the healing of the of the man lying on the ground, might he have been praying for the healing of his neighborhood as well for his city and the world? As he prayed that the moment of violence be stayed, might he have been praying as well that every home be safe and gun-free in his neighborhood, his city and the world? And as he prayed for peace it’s not hard to imagine his prayer was for the world, his city and his neighborhood to experience what we did in that moment: the liberating love and power of Jesus. That night there were about 20 of us gathered around the man on the ground, who was not dead, but alive.
O Lord, grant us the love and courage to pray for everyone, even governments and rulers. Amen.
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The First Church of Christ, Woodbridge
First Congregational Church of Woodbury UCC
North Congregational Church, UCC
First Congregational Church of Woodstock, UCC
This Week in History:
September 16, 1620 (399 years ago) The Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England carrying 102 passengers. Bound for Virginia, the ship reach Massachusetts instead where they founded the first permanent European settlement in December of that year.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Starting With Scripture: September 16, 2019 , by Shepard Parsons.