Timing is important. Sometimes timing is everything. That may be true now with the likely release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on President Trump and his campaign’s possible coordination with Russia during the 2016 election season and potential obstruction of justice. It seems the report is likely to be delivered to Attorney General William Barr during the Christian liturgical season of Lent. This Lent a group of Christian elders have issued a pastoral letter calling for “prayer, fasting, and action,” all of which are appropriate for the Lenten season but are also particularly well timed this year to anchor us for a potential national and even constitutional crisis.
As many in the Christian faith begin to observe Lent, the Reclaiming Jesus elders are renewing their call today to Christians to remain steadfast in their faith and engage with the deepening challenges our nation faces. Today marks the release of a new video featuring several of the Reclaiming Jesus elders urging Christians everywhere to apply Lenten spiritual practices to our lives and to the dangers facing our democracy.
Lent is an appropriate time to respond to moral crisis as it is traditionally characterized by prayer, penitence, and almsgiving — which one can define broadly as solidarity with the most vulnerable. Since the public launch of the Reclaiming Jesus on Pentecost 2018, the moral and political emergency in our nation has worsened, and constitutional crises may soon be upon us. If our system breaks down, those already most vulnerable now will be most at risk, and protections we have long taken for granted like basic freedom of religion and conscience could also be threatened. This precarious national situation requires a season of prayer, fasting, humility, and repentance.
As 1 Timothy 2:2 tells us: We should pray for political leaders and “all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” That’s what we need to pray for and embody in this political and liturgical season. Transparency and honesty are crucial to how people receive Mueller’s report. If there is perceived to be transparency and honesty in the release of the report, many people will be relieved and feel that justice is going forth. If there isn’t truth and transparency there will be frustration, further anxiety, deep resentment, increased possibility of dangerous political conflict and even violence. So we need to pray for and insist on that transparency and honesty from the Justice Department.
Rather than the political responses of left and right, we are calling for a response from the followers of Jesus, anchored in prayer, to protect two things: the checks and balances of power that help protect the common good, and the defense of the “least of these,” which is an instruction of Jesus. Make no mistake that this is not merely a political call, and certainly not a partisan one — it’s founded on the biblical moral values that uphold the common good and society’s most vulnerable people. We call upon our political leaders, not to act for their self-interest and party interest, but to serve the public interest by doing the right things. Sometimes timing is providential.