How might God bless a divided America?

On a recent trip to the US, I went to church—and found myself pondering three liturgical moments.

It’s hard to know how to ask God to bless America right now. On a recent visit to the East Coast, I found friends and peers in a mixture of panic and denial about the coming November election. I did one thing on my visit, however, that gave me three thoughts about how not to feel so paralyzed. I went to church.

It was a conventional Eucharist at an Episcopal church. But three moments struck me in a special way. The first was the prayers of the people. I was conscious that when Donald Trump became president in 2017 there was controversy over the conventional prayer service being held for his tenure on the morning after his inauguration. It wasn’t clear if the service was a quasi-constitutional upholding of the presidency or some kind of personal endorsement of the specific office holder.

As I reflected on the prayers of the people, I pondered whether it is too small a thing that such a prayer service be an endorsement of one administration. Surely the Holy Spirit could make it an event where a wondrously kaleidoscopic diversity of Americans each took the microphone to articulate their respective prayers for the ensuing four years. Maybe America could be offered this invitation: “Let your heart expand. Let your mind encompass. Let your soul grow, through meeting, enjoying, and embracing one another. We believe we’re going to spend eternity together. So we’d best start today. Because Christianity’s about living God’s future now.”