Prayers for the Election

The Orthodox Church in America announced that there are four petitions to be added to the Fervent Supplication during liturgical services which call upon the faithful of the OCA to pray for God’s guidance and intervention as we elect a new metropolitan at this critical juncture in OCA history.     Though in Orthodox style they are a bit wordy, they are still powerful prayers.  I encourage my parishioners to add these petitions (or the sentiments expressed in them) to your own personal prayers and devotions.

It would be good if the OCA as THE autocephalous church in this country, as THE Orthodox Church in America, would also send out to the U.S. parishes some petitions to pray for the presidential election as well.  Instead of ignoring the presidential election we should be offering up prayers for the nation we live in and for our political leaders and candidates.  I encourage my own parishioners to pray for our country during this presidential election, to pray for the candidates running for office, and for those who get elected to office.

It would also be good if we would get rid of the monarchical prayer for the president of our country, and replace it with a petition that better reflects the reality of the American democracy and the tripartite government :  “for the president of our country, for the congress and for the supreme court…”   The president is not the equivalent of a king or emperor and our prayers should reflect the political reality of the country and the century in which we live. (and in Canada and Mexico the petition ought to reflect their political realities) 

Here are the Prayers for the 15th All-American Council and Election of the New Metropolitan of All American and Canada            to be inserted in the Litany of Fervent Supplication

Furthermore we pray that the Lord our Almighty and Eternal God, the Source of all wisdom and understanding, will be present with us as we prepare to gather in Council; and that in our striving to serve and glorify Him He will enlighten us with right judgment and godly purpose to His glory and the building up of His Holy Church.

Again we pray that the Lord our God, the Giver of every good gift, will look with favor upon His Church and bless and guide the minds and hearts of His people being gathered by the grace of the Holy Spirit; and that He will increase in us holy conversation, vigilance, fervent prayer, and trust in Him, guiding our plans and deliberations with faith and knowledge of His will for us.

Furthermore we pray that the Lord our God, Who raises up servants in every time and in every place as leaders for His people, will send His Holy Spirit upon us and so guide our minds and hearts that, inspired by His gifts of discernment and understanding, we may know and do His will as we prepare to elect a new Metropolitan.

Again we pray that the Lord our God, in His mercy and providential care for us, will call forth for His flock a true shepherd of wisdom and strength, blessing us with a Metropolitan to care for the well-being of our Church, and to unite His faithful people in a zealous confession of the Orthodox faith, in loving service to one another, and a bright witness to the glory of His Holy Name.

Light Which Shines out of Darkness: Faith and Economic Crisis

Sermon Notes for 28 September 2008


Still thinking about the traumatic financial crisis which is gripping this country and affecting the world. 


The good news is really in the first line of today’s epistle:

(2 Corinthians 4:6)   It is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.   

Though St. Paul refers to the Genesis 1 story of creation, it is a message of hope in every generation.   There are many kinds of darkness which can take over our lives – the darkness of sin, of natural disasters, of war/invasion, of plague/pandemic, of economic disaster, of manmade disaster, of depression.  

God still commands light to shine out of darkness.  Darkness does not overcome God’s light, though we might experience the darkness as real, and the light as vague hope or even distant delusion.

Darkness does not overcome the light, though darkness can oppressively last for years as witnessed by the Jews, and many others through the centuries. 

This is why it is important that we not contribute to the darkness by our political decisions!


[that God commands light to shine out of the darkness tells me that the basis for light is spiritual not material.  The basis for existence is spiritual not material.  In fact the basis for the material world is spiritual as well.   The Big Bang (used by science as a description of the beginning of the known/empirical universe) is from what we can know light emerging out of the nothing.   The basis of the empirical universe is not found in matter but in the nothing which precedes matter, from our point of view, from the spiritual, from God!] 

(Luke 5:1-11)    Jesus [2]  saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.      [5] Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Economic downturns and disasters have been known to humanity as long as human social systems existed –  famine, flood, draught, invasion, insect plagues, disease, warfare have all taken their toll on human fortune and fortunes.   And in a time when there were no hourly employees, as the apostles knew, you could work long hours, but if you produced nothing, you earned nothing.    The fisherman are washing their nets – they have to continue working and cleaning up and repairing even when they earn nothing!   Economic demands are pitiless. 


The Gospels are full of stories about bad financial decisions, unscrupulous financiers (the publicans!  Zacchaeus!), money lenders, people who got rich off the miseries of others.  There is no Parable of the Good Merchant.  The Gospels say a lot about debt, debtors, the rich, the prosperous.   People were very familiar with poverty, taxes, financial disaster and economic oppressors.    Christ’s followers knew very well what it was to work hard and long and to have nothing to show for it.  He who won’t work, doesn’t eat – but even those who work hard might not have anything to eat in this system! 

[6] When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. [7] So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. … Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” [11] When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Note in the story, Jesus doesn’t ask the disciples to abandon their business when things had failed – when they worked hard and had nothing to show for it.  He asks them to follow Him after the hugely successful catch of fish.   He asks them to abandon prosperity to follow Him, not to abandon poverty and failure!  The disciples don’t leave behind their empty nets, but rather their enriching catch to follow Jesus.  


While we may all feel the need to turn to God during times of economic downturn seeking His merciful intervention, it is in times of prosperity that we are most tempted to forget not only to thank God, but that God exists.


In Washington politicians may work out a bailout plan for the troubled financial market and their agencies of wealth (gained and lost), but whatever ideas they implement are themselves fraught with risks and offer no guarantee of success and might in fact exacerbate the problem.


Prayer in bad economic times offers no risk, except that it might go unanswered.   On the other hand, it might turn God to attend to us, but at the minimum will make us attend to God.