The native chaplain prayerfully criticizes lawmakers for failing to band collectively on pandemic aid

WASHINGTON (RNS) – The US House of Representatives chaplain punished lawmakers during a prayer on Wednesday March 10 and asked God to “forgive” them for failing to agree on pandemic relief legislation.

Counteradministrator Margaret Grun Kibben, an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church who took over the role of house chaplain in January, included the criticism in her prayer as she opened the house session on Wednesday as lawmakers moved to a final vote on president Joe Biden prepared a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

“Almighty God, while these lawmakers take their side on this faction bill before you, we pray for your mercy,” she said. “Forgive them all. Because when asked to respond to a once-in-a-century pandemic that has rocked our country, shook its economy and widened the divide of partisan sentiment, they missed the opportunity to go beyond the struggle and unite around themselves to take care of this national crisis. “

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Kibben, the first woman to hold her position, added, “By not addressing the sharpness and divisions that have existed in this room, the servants whom you have called on to lead this land have spread one even more insidious contagion contributed to the bitterness and in spite of it. “

She then referred to the New Testament Letter to the Colossians, arguing that “the legislature has put this“ armor ”aside in favor of argument and derogatory words rather than the preventive measures of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience apply ”and split. “

She also remembered the third chapter of Mark’s Gospel – often recited as “a house decided against itself cannot stand” – and insisted that Congress now “needs healing and reconciliation.”

Kibben concluded, “Merciful Lord, rebuild this house so that your work will not be in vain.”

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In fact, the House voted to approve the pandemic relief law on Wednesday afternoon. The split seemed to persist, however: the final number of votes fell almost entirely according to party-political standards.

Although Kibben was less than three months in her role as house chaplain, she has drawn attention for her service to lawmakers. She had only been a chaplain for three days when rioters broke through the doors of the Capitol in an attempted insurrection, but she relied on years of training and experience as a chaplain in combat to take the opportunity to serve others.

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