So, I’m up. I’m up and moving around after one of the worst nights of my adult life. I finally went to bed at midnight when the writing was on the wall (or, better said, the red was on the map), and then I woke up at 2 in the morning and checked my phone; I saw that Hillary had lost Pennsylvania and I knew it was over.
2 am is not a good time to get catastrophic news. My thoughts immediately went to nuclear war, mass deportations of immigrants, and Muslim-bashing mobs. [It didn’t help that today, Nov. 9th, is the anniversary of Kristallnacht in Germany, the event most people consider to be the start of the Holocaust.]
But it is not 2 am, it is 9 am, and I am feeling better. I got up, walked Henry and then had a good workout. (I went to the gym because I didn’t feel like running in the rain–of course, it’s raining–and kept my eyes assiduously off the tvs and focused on the December issue of “Oprah” and her favorite things. Nothing like a little Oprah to sooth one’s soul). So, I’m up. I’m up and moving around and I hope you are, too, because I have three words for you, three words that you and I need to carry with us for the next four years: Don’t. Give. Up. Don’t walk away; don’t curse those who voted for Trump; don’t throw up your hands; don’t move to Canada. (Although at 2 in the morning if I had been near a computer I would have been one of the ones who helped crash the Canadian immigration site.)
Because we have a problem in this country that is even bigger than Trump (hard to believe, I know), and that is the deep divide between large groups of people who apparently know each other only through lenses of mistrust and caricature, and who go out of their way to avoid each other: white and non-white, rich and poor, urban and rural, college-educated and not, coastal and middle America. And, regardless of whether she won or not, one thing Hillary definitely got right is that we are–we can only be–Stronger Together. And “together” is most definitely NOT what we are this morning.
And this, my friends, is a job for the church. The church is the one place [or at least a key place] in society where people of all stripes come together, united by something greater than all the things that divide us. This is what Jesus’ ministry was all about (and, in case you are wondering, it is something that Muhammad did as well.), and it what we as the church are called to be all about as well. That is our task right now in this country; that is our calling. I don’t have any brilliant new ideas (although I am thinking hard about how we are preparing public ministers to serve in a climate like this here at the seminary), but I do know a few things.
God can work through Donald Trump. God worked through Cyrus and through the Ninevehites, and Jesus changed the hearts of the tax collectors and the men who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery. I’m praying for God to work on Trump’s heart and his mind, and you should, too.
The Holy Spirit is with the church, and doing a new thing in us right now. Through the power of the Spirit we have the courage to be bold and daring, to take risks and reach out, to try something new, and to speak words both prophetic and healing. We are not on our own in this work.
And finally, change is always possible–for ourselves and for others. But we cannot give up–not on others, not on ourselves, and not on our country. For, after all, it is OUR country, and one man–even if he is the president–doesn’t get to define it for us. We get to do that, together.
I keep several quotes on my desk; I share two of them with you:
“Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’.'” Mary Anne Radmacher
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Gandhi
Don’t. Give. Up.