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Will people will return to church and prayer in a time of chaos and crisis?

Question & Answer

 

Q: By Jillian

I would be interested to learn if you think people will return to church and prayer – in a time of chaos and crisis? Do you think people need something to “cling to?” Here in Australia we are also in shut down mode and I fear for those who are already in debt, lost jobs, business closed and the mental health aspect of some.  I’ve read of suicides after the Great Depression, share market collapse and you hope that it doesn’t occur again. As I’m an interested political volunteer, I suggested words of hope and encouragement might be needed rather than “Do this or else you’ll die” which is not particularly comforting.  Not everyone will die. 

A: By Rev. Fran Pratt

 

Dear Jillian,

It’s interesting you ask this question. I personally think it’s more a time of “letting go” than of “clinging to.” I think this is a moment of collective apocalypse – meaning, a great revealing, or unveiling. And I see, at least here in the US, a lot of structures that need tearing down; and I believe this drawn-out moment is clarifying that reality for many people. Here we are literally tearing down colonialist and exploitative-capitalist monuments. And I think the slowdown of economies is highlighting things we can let go of and feel free to radically re-imagine going forward.

I don’t need people to be in church, necessarily. But I do hope that the Church can become a voice for change. I hope it can get over its ego and overcome its centuries-long history of capitulation to empire and active participation in colonization. Again, this is a case of the Church needing to be rebuilt and re-imagined. In many cases, our leaving speaks louder than our staying. I think a lot of folks are realizing that, and also that the Church is not the only sacred space. People are getting creative and making sacred space in zoom calls and protests and marches and distanced outdoor visits. People are learning to “pray with their feet.”

Basically, I think people who are doggedly asleep, are mostly going to remain asleep. But I pray that a higher consciousness prevails and is “contagious” in terms of waking up to the Kin-dom of God and its availability to us in this moment. And, I let go of control of other people, while hanging on to compassion and empathy (and indeed hands-and-feet helping) for those who are desperate.

I agree that “do this or die” is not helpful, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the messaging I’ve seen around here that is more along the lines of “we’re in this together, we can do hard things, etc.” I’ve been encouraged by the response here in the US to the increased visibility of racism and systemic inequity, a badly needed awakening by the white majority. And I hope that the awakening will give way to Right Action, politically and societally.

The things I personally cling to are very broad and generous: That the divine is ultimately loving and good. That we are lovingly given free will on this earth. That the challenges we encounter are here to teach us. That we can learn to live inside a paradigm of abundance (Kin-dom) rather than a paradigm of scarcity. That every human is made in the image of the Divine and deserving of dignity and safety. That we have agency and capacity for change. For me, if those are here, then here is Church. I can let go of what doesn’t align.

~ Rev. Fran Pratt

About the Author
Rev. Fran Pratt is a pastor, writer, musician, and mystic. Making meaningful and beautiful liturgy to be spoken, practiced, and sung, is at the heart of her creative drive. Fran authored a book of congregational litanies, and regularly creates and shares modern liturgy on her website and Patreon. Her prayers are prayed in churches of various sizes and traditions across the globe. She writes, speaks, and consults on melding ancient and new liturgical streams in faith and worship. Fran is Pastor of Worship and Liturgy at Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas.

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