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February 6, 2020

Has this devotional grounded your resistance to Trump in Scripture and empowered you to act for the common good? If the answer is "yes," then please help us reach more progressive Christians. Become a Patron today.
The president praises himself, not God, at this morning's National Prayer Breakfast
  • On Tuesday, President Donald Trump delivered a State of the Union address peppered with religious references and ideas, laying out a sweeping vision for the United States that evoked old (and contested) religious symbols and catered directly to the conservative Christians who make up his base of support - the story from Religion News.
  • On Wednesday, Republican Utah senator Mitt Romney voted to convict President Donald Trump of abuse of power, explaining he was compelled to do so in part by his faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Romney grew visibly emotional on the Senate floor while discussing the role of his faith in the decision - the story from Religion News.
  • Today, the president immediately attacked his political rivals at the National Prayer Breakfast just hours after his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, charging that they had inappropriately invoked "their faith as justification" for calls to remove him from office - the story from Sojourners.
God was in many places at once around Washington, D.C. this week, and some of the “divine” appearances seem more problematic than others.
"Be still, and know that I am God.” - Psalm 46
On Tuesday night I grudgingly agreed to watch the State of the Union with my partner. I was tired from leading an evening gathering with young adults at my D.C.-based congregation and did not think the SOTU would aid me in falling into a peaceful much-needed sleep. Though I mostly scrolled through my Twitter feed, my ears pricked up at a few specific instances of Trump's well-rehearsed religious rhetoric. As Religion News Service writer Jack Jenkins reports, this SOTU was very religion-heavy.
I raised my eyes and my voice to the screen: “Get my God’s name out of your mouth!” As a millennial Pastor, I was hoping to get a laugh from the few secular and faithful friends who had gathered with us to watch. But I was also yelling out in confusion: How is the God that I pray to on Sundays the same God that Trump invokes?

This same God was also present when Mitt Romney took a play from RBG’s book and cast a dissenting vote in Trump’s impeachment trial. In an openly emotional speech, Romney shared how his faith informed his decision to step beyond partisan duties.“I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am,” he said, taking a long pause to collect himself. “I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.”  Romney’s relationship with his God gave him the courage to provide what Stephen Colbert described as “water in the desert.”

This morning, Trump also gathered with religious leaders and politicians for the annual National Prayer Breakfast, where God’s name was also thrown around the halls of power. Rev. Dr. William Barber, leader of the Poor People’s Campaign, described Trump’s actions at the gathering: “Trump just walked into the National Prayer Breakfast & didn’t bow in submission to God, but held up papers saying acquittal & flaunted his supposed glory & victory.”
As a faith leader who lives and works outside our nation's capital, I can’t help but wonder who this multifaceted, extremely busy God is, and what this God’s Google calendar looks like. The Psalmist says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” How is it that so many of us have come to know such different versions of the same God? Is there a way to actually be still and know this God when politicians and the 24-hour news cycle sculpt God’s place in partisan politics?

While Trump was invoking God’s name to call for late-term abortion restrictions on Tuesday and holding up a newspaper to tout his accomplishments in a supposedly prayerful space on Thursday, I know that God was also present in the corner of D.C. where I live, work, and worship. God was helping deliver barbequed drumsticks and garlic kale to a new mother who just finished her last round of breast cancer chemotherapy. God was breathing among five twentysomethings who are supported by our congregation in an intentional Christian community in an old church parsonage, providing accessible health care and immigration clinic support.

From the lyrics of the Psalmists, the depth of the oceans, and the rivers of justice, God is so much bigger than we can fully comprehend.
God is too big to be “my God.”
God is too big to be “Trump’s God” or “Mitt’s God.”
Or “Their God” or “Our God.”
God is too big to only have one side of the story.
May we seek the God that is beyond our conception to empower us to act beyond our own desires.
Be still. Breathe. Write your own personal prayer today.
What does YOUR God think of all this? How has YOUR God been present for you this week?
“In the midst of what is now a political, constitutional, moral, and spiritual crisis, with no certainty of how it will be resolved, we all pray, ‘Lord have mercy.’ Oh Lord, replace our feelings of helplessness and hopelessness with a commitment to courageous action and the hope that we believe can only come from you. ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). Amen.

 - from Rev. Jim Wallis, "A Personal Prayer on the Day of the National Prayer Breakfast"
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