"On April 15, 2010, United States District Court Judge Barbara Crabb, for the Western District of Wisconsin, struck down the National Day of Prayer statute, ruling that it is unconstitutional."
That sets the stage. But I find the next section the most puzzling:
"The National Day of Prayer belongs to Americans. It is a tradition that dates back to 1775 and it is not for a Judge to take away. This really amounts to an attack upon the religious heritage of Americans - this terrible court ruling does NOT cancel the 59th annual observance of NDP on May 6th, but it does threaten to remove it in the future."
In the same breath, a contradiction: how can a tradition that dates back to 1775 celebrates its 59th annual observance on May 6th, 2010. Wouldn't that have occurred in 1834? Or would this year actually mark the 235th annual observance?
Anyway, were we to retain the holy day, wouldn't it be better to be more explicit about it's addressee? Why not call it The National Day of Prayer to Yahweh or The National Day of Prayer to Shiva? What good does a pluralistic prayer jamboree do for a jealous god? What good does it do for the subjects of the true god?
Now I'm not qualified to comment on the merits of the legal arguments either for or against having state-instituted prayer, though the thought makes me uneasy. But for the sake of argument, let's say appeals fail and the court ruling does indeed cancel the 59th (or 235th) observance of the holy-day. Would the appeals court have canceled anything meaningful?
After all, it doesn't take a nation.
"I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them (Matt. 18:20)."
Richard Hays has suggested that this is a clear reference to the church community, specifically in Matthews original setting, for which he posits a late date, but more generally until the end of the age. Earlier in Matthew's gospel Jesus had said,
"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven (Matt. 16:18-19)."
Whatever this means, it at least means that the church has been granted immense power by the king himself. Next to this power the gates of hell become irrelevant as does national recognition of our high holy days. They can take nothing from us. It doesn't take a nation to pray, it takes a church. And a church requires a simple community. And a church community is a mere two or three individuals. Tragedy can only occur when two or three fail to gather together in the name of Christ. Tragedy can only occur when the church fails to be the church.
So the questions are best put the church, that is, to any small community of individuals that gathers together in the name of Jesus. The senders of the frightful email don't want the government "cancelling" the national day of prayer. But I would point out that the whole idea of a government instituting such a day is quite creepy in the first place. Haven't we asked Leviathan for too much? Won't he ask for too much in return? Wouldn't it be better to say to the government and the rest of the nation, like Joshua, "Go ahead and pick your poison, as for me and my house, we'll serve the Lord thank you very much." Won't we still pray with the window open toward Jerusalem (not Washington) and at the mouth of the lion's den like Daniel? Aren't we still going to pray whether Nero, Caligula, or Constantine are in charge? Shouldn't we render unto Caesar and then stay the hell out of his way?