How should we pray in public about the election?

Elections pose even more problems than usual for people who prepare and lead prayers in their churches. That is never more true than in situations like the present: divided politics, polarised societies, and partisan journalism. There is a sense that the skeleton that has largely underpinned the body politic is, if not exactly broken, in a state of advanced osteoporosis.

So what should those who lead prayer say, if they are to enable the church as a whole to agree in prayer? The problem is that the phrases that unite are often sufficiently anodyne to disguise a multitude of meanings.

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Language! taking care of our words in public

Normally I would save political posts for my other blog (where I shall cross-post this). This one, after all, is devoted to things liturgical. However, sometimes there are resonances between public liturgy and public life.

One of the things good liturgy does is teach us something about the use of language. Most specifically, it gives us words to use to speak to God. These have usually been crafted with care, drawing on the depth of the tradition, however updated to be able to make sense in the present. People take care shaping the words of the liturgy, because what we say matters. In so far as we can speak truth about the God who is beyond our full understanding, we want to speak truthfully to, about, and for God.

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