• Trinity Voices

Toward Peace and Light, Life and Love

The Rev. Morgan Allen
January 6, 2021

Dear Trinity Church and friends,


On September 11, 2001, I awoke at my paternal grandparents' home. I had traveled to Monroe, Louisiana, for the funeral for my first cousins' grandmother to be held later that morning. After finishing my breakfast, I walked into my grandparents' den adjusting my tie when I saw the second plane crash into the World Trade Center.


For those who will remember that day, confusion reigned: was this a terrible accident? Was this a malevolent plan? Were the people I love in danger?


As pressing as these questions were and felt, my family had our own pressing labor of the heart, and, with one eye on the television, we finished readying for the funeral, drove the short distance to Rayville, gathered in the small-town church, and said our prayers for Helen Earle Lowery.


Following the service, I returned to the driver's seat of my car where I would make the seven-and-a-half hour drive back to Austin, where we lived. For all those hours alone in the car - resisting the urge to talk on the telephone during that time when cell service was still billed by-the-minute and there was no such thing as a "smart phone" - I listened intently to NPR's coverage of the scenes in Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington D.C. Given their medium, NPR's coverage focused on the aural experience of the terror: the sirens and stories on the streets of our nation. Bone deep, I can still conjure how frightened and hollow and helpless I felt as I listened 


This morning I awoke in Louisiana under the same blanket I did over 19 years ago. Earlier this week, I had made the long drive to the Northeast Louisiana cemetery to bury my Aunt Lynne, who died suddenly the weekend after Christmas. As my sermon last Sunday anticipated, I knew that today would mark the two primary trajectories that comprise our common life as American Christians - at once, citizens of God's kingdom, and citizens of Herod's world - and, yet, my family again had pressing labor of the heart to attend. Therefore, at the same hour the President of the United States delivered remarks at a rally on the Mall, I gathered with my father and his siblings. With burial readings and prayers I know by heart, we remembered their sister, and, as the outdoor, socially-distance service neared its end, I knelt on the green astroturf and set my aunt’s remains in the ground, commending her to God's care and keeping. In their turn, her brothers and sisters then cast earth upon her resting place before we exchanged the Peace with bumps of the fist and pats on the back. I returned to the driver's seat of my car to begin the seven-and-a-half hour drive to Austin, where my plans called for me to stay. 


As in 2001, I tuned into NPR in shock and disbelief as I heard the news of this afternoon's breech of the United States Capitol. Once more, NPR's coverage focused on the sounds of the event: the voices of security personnel urging lawmakers and staff to remain calm and yet move briskly; the shouts of rioters parroting catchphrases they heard on the Mall only this morning; the bustling of crowds, the wail of sirens, and the worry of news anchors.


As I drive, I ask with you:


What are we as Americans called to do in a moment like this?

What are we as Christians called to do in a moment like this?

What are we as Trinity Church called to do in a moment like this?


In response to this situation and to these questions, I offer that we at Trinity Church and as members of the Body of Christ, first firm our footing on that trajectory toward Peace and Light, Life and Love. We resist the temptation to give ourselves over to the cultural roil. We refuse to contribute to the polemics that have brought our country to this moment. We turn toward one another and our God with hope and humility, and we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, when God was made manifest in the person of Jesus Christ.


See, we as members of this parish family always have pressing labors of the heart before us, no matter what happens in the world around us, and the world benefits from our faithful focus on this righteous and holy labor. We mark today as the day the Lord has made, and we inaugurate as we can, where we can, the peaceful, loving, and just world God hopes for us.


Tonight, we will gather for our planned Evensong at 5:45pm. Though this service's prayers and music were recorded in advance of this afternoon's events, we trust that God will know our hearts and hopes of this day and at that hour. Then, tonight at 8:30pm (the Zoom opening at 8:15pm), we will gather for our daily Compline service. During Compline, we will offer intercessions for our nation and its leadership, as we ask for God to equip us as peacemakers. 


Between now and then, let us join in prayer: 


O God of Peace, you have bound us together in a common life. In the midst of anger and fear, help us remember that your love is to inspire us when the world seeks to incite us; that your creative power leads us always out of chaos and into community; and that your Christ is among us tonight as your truth and your peace. Have mercy on our nation and on all the peoples of the world and strengthen all charged with safeguarding others and all we share as citizens and as your children. Amen. 


Peace and Courage,


The Rev. Morgan S. Allen,