PRAYING FOR THE PEACE OF THE CITY
While we are encouraged to march and peacefully demonstrate against institutionalized racism and systemic oppression and to take a decisive stand for social justice, the church of the living God cannot forget that while we are provoked to stand up and speak out, the Scriptures also loudly call upon us to aggressively pray. The prophet Jeremiah makes this unmistakably clear in his instructive letter to the children of Israel carried into exile from Jerusalem, into Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 29). Very informative is Jeremiah 29:7, “Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” What powerful words! The prophet was reminding his audience that even though they were in the minority and not of the dominant culture; that even though they were not the privileged ones, they still had power to pray and act in Babylon and so make an impactful difference! May we always know that as the people of God, in a culture that seems so strange and sometimes downright hostile and barbaric, that by His grace we are mandated to be here, not so much to be enmeshed and engulfed by the culture but by His grace and our social and spiritual actions to help change and influence the prevailing the culture for good. Somehow the people of the world must know that we the people of God are here, sent on a mission to help bring “shalom” to the city - prosperity, wholeness, soundness, security, reconciliation, welfare, harmony and justice to the city.
They must know that the exiles are here. They must know that we didn’t leave our God back there, but we traveled with Him or better yet, He traveled with us and ordained for us to be here in such a time as this, not to fit in, but to bring about change. They must come to the understanding that our God who practically journeys with us is a God of justice and equity for all. This is so much a part of our theology – the theology of the exile – serving a God “who plans always to prosper us and not to harm us, who plans always to give us hope and a future” wherever He has placed us – even in a strange land (Jeremiah 29:11).
In the meantime, as we stand up and speak out as a church together against racial and social injustice and the senseless slaying of so many of our people of color, by those who should be protecting them, we continue to obey the scriptural injunction to systematically pray until evil is dismantled and evil social systems are demolished, to God’s glory and the establishment of His righteous Kingdom. To this end, may we always work and pray. “Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV). We seek the peace of the city! We systematically pray! The theology of the exile involves praying for those who despitefully use and even abuse them (Matthew 5:44). If ever a time the Church of God needs to pray for the peace and prosperity of the city is now, because according to the sure word of the Lord if it prospers we too shall prosper.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Presiding Bishop – Northeast Region
In collaboration with our District Overseers, the Church of God of Prophecy submits to the wisdom of continuing to ‘Shelter in Place’ for the safety and protection of the flock. This is to be observed until further notice and the present virus is better contained. Should the need arise to meet, we are advised to meet in groups of no more than 10, while we strictly observe the protocols of social distancing, wearing of masks and aggressive sanitizing of our hands and surfaces frequently touched.
Please let us patiently observe these practices to keep each other safe and alive. We are reminded that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. Stay home! Stay Healthy! Stay Hopeful! We shall soon get through this! Premature re-openings of our churches seem not to be the wisest way to go at this point. Let us continue to pray, caring for each other and staying connected.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional, Presiding Bishop — Northeast Region