As I watched, I found myself thinking about our responsibility as an Orthodox people who are also citizens of the United States of America. This was a rancorous election, with many extreme claims being made. As a result, many Orthodox have debated about what our role is. Are we to participate strongly in politics? Is the Church to publicly take stands? Should our hierarchs speak out more strongly and unitedly?
I do not have the answer to those questions. But, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church to correctly take up its appropriate role in the United States of America. But, from Holy Scripture and the Divine Liturgy I have one certain answer as to a duty that the Church has, one that has been clear since the beginning of the Church, and a duty that applies to each and every one of us. Saint Paul the Apostle tells us:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. … Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
In fulfillment of that, we find the following petition in various of our Litanies:
"For the President of the United States, all civil authorities, and our armed forces everywhere, let us pray to the Lord.
So, let us commit ourselves today, not to a particular person, or to a particular party, or even to a particular political philosophy or type of government. Let us commit ourselves to pray, “without anger or disputing … for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” That is our most Orthodox duty on this day, and all future days.
And, let us not forget the request we offer to God as a response to that petition.
"Lord, have mercy!
Let that be our unending prayer as we contemplate our government.