Those of you who know me or follow my blog know I was disappointed with Tuesday’s election. I thought then (and still do) that the electorate had made a mistake. My initial Facebook “statement” follows:
So, anyone who has followed my posts knows I am disappointed this morning. I think America has made a wrong choice, but this is the system. We are deeply divided, and I’m standing on the losing side of the divide today. I have biracial children, and I have concern that people who hate or distrust anyone “different” have been emboldened by the election results. I have gay friends who are wondering if they are going to be told their marriages will be invalidated. I have immigrant friends and family who are US citizens who are afraid both for themselves here in our country as well as for their families who are abroad. I could go on, but you’ve seen me “go on” for about 6 months, so I won’t belabor my points again.
I am not, however, in despair this morning. America has survived rocky times. We elected a “populist” president in Andrew Jackson, and depending on which historian you read, he was either a really good thing for the country or one of the worst presidents ever. I suspect the same will be true of the Trump administration. I choose to have faith in the goodness at the core of those whom I believe are patriots but chose to vote very differently yesterday.
And yes, I have faith in God. My theology informs me that nothing built against God’s Kingdom (which I believe is here and now, in part) can ultimately stand against it. I encourage my Christian friends and family (regardless of how you voted) to put the election behind you and press on with the work we have been called to do, irrespective of the party or person in power:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
“Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.”
There were a number of posts by the friends most frightened by this election, and I liked and shared them. I wanted to make sure their voices were heard. But for the most part, I was in the “hope zone”, especially after what appeared to be a warm meeting between President Obama and President-Elect Trump.
On Wednesday evening, our church had a truly beautiful prayer service of hope and healing. It was planned well before election day, and no, it was not a liberal church “funeral” for Hillary Clinton so we could cry and lick our wounds. We all had a chance to confess, to heal, and to hope in a very concrete way that was personally moving to me.
I confessed to feelings and expressions of smug certainty, perhaps even a back-patting self-righteousness for my view of the political and social issues at hand throughout the campaign. For the record, I would have needed to confess these things regardless of the election’s outcome.
I prayed for the healing of fractured relationships between friends and family members (of which there are many), and that I would be given gracious words that would advance the causes of love and peace.
My hope was that both the “victor and the vanquished” (yes, I actually put that on a note card – I love words) would conduct themselves in a manner that would assure all that we live in a country that stands for liberty and justice FOR ALL.
Then hate happened too close to home.
You may have heard about or seen this video of middle school students chanting “Build the wall” to Latino students, driving them to the point of tears.
This was my daughter’s school. And while she was not the target of these taunts, she herself is a minority (both of my children are adopted and biracial).
She had questions: “Will my friends have to go away?” She was referring not only to Latinos, but to students who are Arab American as well. Well, this daddy’s “mama bear” instinct kicked in, and many of you saw my protective and (I believe) righteous anger loosed on Facebook. A couple selections:
Attention Trump voters: Your candidate is DIRECTLY responsible for this, and it is unacceptable. This happened at MY DAUGHTER’S MIDDLE SCHOOL. Oh yeah, my daughter happens to be a minority.
Feel free to defend it. And if you can’t, DEMAND that our new president firmly and unequivocally denounces these acts and the people who perpetrate them.
I’m still willing to give him a chance. And this is his chance.
(UPDATE – 11/14 – I was pleased to see Mr. Trump take the opportunity on 60 minutes to tell those who are harassing minorities to “Stop it.” It’s a start)
I saw (and am still seeing) the darkest sides of our country’s societal views and the people who espouse them emboldened by a candidate (and soon to be president) who encouraged this behavior throughout his candidacy. Seeing it in the public space (MY public space, no less) was angering and frightening.
To be fair, there are acts of hate coming from both sides. The stories of Clinton supporters verbally and physically assaulting Trump supporters equally appall me. Regardless of whose “side” anyone is on, there are two very strong, very harmful emotions at work. In myself, in others, in you.
Without going Bible diving, I can tell you there are verses that tell us we should not be angry (except at sin) and that fear has no place in the life of the Christian. If we live what we say we believe, we have hope and trust that God is in control. Our sermon text from this morning (the emphases are mine):
Praise for God’s Help
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
My eyes don’t necessarily see how that ultimately works itself out in the “real world” other than to know that I, as a Christ follower, and we, as the church, are the Spirit-empowered change agents who must work to see this Kingdom life here and now:
As God works in and through us:
- We execute justice for the oppressed
- We give food to the hungry
- We set the prisoners free
- We lift up those who are bowed down
- We watch over the strangers
- We uphold the orphan and the widow.
We cannot depend on our political leaders to do these things. Sure, they may occasionally enact legislation that advances one or another of our causes, but placing our hope in them to do this is misplaced.
So, I resolve these things:
- I will find my hope in the Lord
- I will pray for our elected leaders
- I will not repay evil with evil or insult with insult
- I will vigorously seek justice for the oppressed and have as my highest priority the interests of those most marginalized and wrongly discriminated against in our society. This, I believe, is our highest call as Christians.
- I will, as far as it depends on me, live peaceably with all.
These are lofty resolutions, and I know my non-Christian readers won’t understand the “Spirit empowered” language I use, but I believe they are all resolutions we ALL can and MUST adopt, especially in the new political culture in which we find ourselves.
I will close with one of my favorite pastoral blessings, from the book of Ephesians (emphasis mine):
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.