Friday, October 5, 2012


Jeremiah Wright. It seems a malignant exercise even to write his name. There he stood and ranted, hair groomed to perfection, arrayed in resplendent robes, scholarly glasses perched on his nose, behind an ornate pulpit, in front of television cameras projecting images of him around the whole world, screaming – screaming – uncomposed, unbridled, with mindless fury unloosed, spewing hatred and incendiary, vituperative racism against our country, and by association, each one of us. “Not ‘God Bless America,’” he cried, “Oh no! God Damn America!

No John the Baptist this man. No Elijah. Not even Balaam’s ass. As Emerson wryly noted, “If the hive be disturbed by rash and stupid hands, instead of honey, it will yield us bees.”1

Jesus, (whom Mr. Wright declares, was a black man living in a country dominated by white Europeans), Jesus said, “He that has seen me has seen the Father.” If Jesus has taught us anything about the “Father,” he has taught us that his heart is not filled with hatred, but Love. If this is true, Jeremiah Wright clearly does not speak for God.

That said, the thought came to me this morning to pray for Jeremiah Wright. A prayer that might go something like this: “God please reveal your love to this man and draw him to yourself. Bless him and create your heart within him; help him to become the kind of man you would have him be. Mold him into the likeness and character of your dear Son.”

Did not Jesus also teach us to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”?

That Mr.Wright is an enemy, I have no doubt. His poisonous language and hatred toward people of other races leaves no ambiguity about the depraved animosity of his character. If ever anyone needed the Lord, he does. I have searched my heart, and I am not sure I am capable of loving a man like this. But I can love the Image of God in him, I can love what God wants him to be. And I can pray for him.

I wonder how many Christians have also prayed for Mr. Wright? Can we not all agree that he needs it?

The decendant of slaves, he became pastor to a future President of the United States. He is now surrounded with affluence and fame. Or infamy, depending on perspective. Not bad for a guy who came from a country that gave him everything he has. Yes, Mr. Wright, needs prayer, as do all of us. He may need it more or less, but God loves him, and although it is hard, if we claim Jesus as our Lord, we should, too.

And yes – indeed -- God, please bless America . . .

[For] “. . . our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. [Therefore, we pray] “. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg
While we as a nation are no longer engaged in a civil war, we have largely forgotten what it means to be civil. We need to come together again as a people united under God and know once again that new birth of freedom. We need to explore more deeply those things we have in common and neglect those things that divide us. Despite our differences, we need to seek the God who expresses himself in each one of us.

1Emerson, Ralph Waldo, Selected Essays, The People's Book Club, Chicago, 1949. p. 156

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