Tad and I have been starting out our mornings with the morning prayers in the back of the Orthodox Study Bible so one of the intercessions I've been praying every morning goes like this:
Save, O Lord, and have mercy upon all world rulers, on our president, and on all our civil authorities. Speak peace and blessing in their hearts for Your holy church and for all Your peoples, in order that we may live a calm and peaceful life, in all godliness and dignity.
The president part I get and I always throw in those who seek the office of the president (now changed to president-elect) but I always sort of thought the civil authorities prayer was a bit out of place in this nation so I figured I was praying for folks in other nations who don't enjoy the freedoms we do here.
Then about two weeks ago someone from the animal investigation unit of the Sheriff's department showed up at my doorstep. He sat in his car in the driveway for a long time where he was quickly noticed by a lot of inquisitive children peering through the bay window at him. Finally, he approached the house rather sheepishly and explained that someone had called and complained about our chickens. I had (sort of) checked the zoning laws on that so I knew we could legally have the chickens but I didn't know the exact parameters of the law. Turns out there is a limit on the number of domestic pets we can have - to include the chickens. This fellow - a civil authority - was very kind, generous and certainly helped me retain my dignity in what could have been a sticky situation.
It wasn't until a day or two ago that I grasped the role of this prayer in that situation. I do have to admit to a certain amount of fear that someone will dislike our extremely counter-cultural lifestyle and send CPS here for some bogus charge. In fact, we have a contingency plan in place for just such an occurrence. Even in a country where we do have a lot of freedoms there are always those who will seek to encroach upon them. And to whom will they turn when they do? The civil authorities. I have nothing to fear, however, if my prayers truly avail the solace of authorities into whom God speaks "peace and blessing into their hearts for [His] holy church and for all [His] peoples." My friend from the sheriff's office may have been sent precisely to teach me that lesson.