I woke up this morning to a brand new day, yet it was sadly much like yesterday: split executive and legislative branches, split senate and congress, split populace (almost a 50-50 vote), split country (the heartland states look like a bloody knife through the US, splitting the east and west coast blue states), split urban v. rural (in many cases, the majority of any state voted for Romney geographically but the few, heavily populated areas went for President Obama), split white male voters versus (seemingly) almost everyone else, and split young versus old. I hear cries of despair with some angry insults from “the losers.” I also have witnessed arrogant blustering over victory. Some wrongly make the President appear to be the answer to every ill known to humankind, yet he is human and not the Messiah. That isn’t fair to neither him nor the country, and to me, it seems to diminish God’s role in our public affairs. Despite a few boasts of a mandate, there is clearly a risk of a Divided States of America if we don’t watch ourselves, repent of our wrongs, and seek to love one another.
On both the Left and Right and among many inbetween, we need to change our ways. Policies shouldn’t be thrust down the throat of others, and any movement shouldn’t be log jammed mechanically. We should demand our leaders talk to one another rather than isolate themselves in their Congressional chamber or executive mansion. We all should practice some self-reflection and restraint. In addition, “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way” (Luther’s Large Catechism, section on the 8th Commandment).
Pastors and people should remain cognizant that faithful Christians can and do disagree on serious topics regarding loving God and neighbor. The pulpit shouldn’t be a place of personal, one-sided political agendas passed off as being “prophetic,” but rather the ministry of Word and Sacrament should prove a source of healing, reconciliation, and new life. We should think and pray hard before speaking and seek to engage and comfort those who have perhaps been thought of as our political enemies.
As with many times before in our fallen world, the difficult work of reconciliation lies before us. If we are ever to move forward to discover beginning signs of a true new day, we must intentionally seek to embrace this call from Christ. In times like these, I remember the words of Br. Roger of Taizé: “Human beings are sometimes severe. God, for His part, comes to clothe us in compassion. He weaves our lives, like a beautiful garment, with the threads of His forgiveness. He buries our past in the heart of Christ and He had already taken care of our future.”
We need no longer react in fear or self-interest. Jesus has freed us to act in love. Still being true to our faith and ideals; still calling out what we think to be sin, political wrongs, or violations of law (even if seemingly in our favor or fitting our world view); still demanding true transparency and not just promises of it – we can seek to be gentle with one another, as Christ is always and will forever be so gentle with us. We can recall that at our best, we are sinner-saints, imperfect, and thus, we can humbly acknowledge that we might just be the ones in error in the end. First and foremost, we must remember we are called to be one in Christ, and we need to try to view others as Jesus does.
No matter what happens politically or economically, I remain confident – not in the powers of this world, or even in myself, but in Jesus Christ alone. God’s will will be done, and all will be well.
I invite you to reflect upon 2 Cor. 5, as I will be, over the days ahead. In addition, consider enacting a practice at your congregation started by our Mennonite brothers and sisters right here in Virginia – Election Day Communion. Learn more here:
© 2012 The Rev. Louis Florio. All contents not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.