“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
“How are you doing today?” she asked with a smile. “Not great,” I replied in haste, opting for honesty over pleasantry. “I’m sad and angry,” I told the woman on my way to work.
Like many of you, I awoke today in disbelief. How could *this* man be our President elect? How could our country – the great US of A, land of liberty and justice for all - knowingly choose a man who unashamedly propagates racism, xenophobia, sexism, isolationism, greed, fear and disregard for the stewardship of this planet? What will we say to our children? I grieve with my friends and neighbors in this country who are minorities, immigrants, refugees and oppressed. I am genuinely sad today that the color of your skin or your nation of origin divides us today in this land. (And, yes, I know that some of you who put a checkmark next to Trump's name on your ballot, did so with sadness.)
How far we’ve strayed from Lincoln’s vision for America today, it appears. That said, we must press onward, heeding Lincoln’s 19th century word to his land.
So, to all among the #neverTrump base, do not give Trump and his supporters the satisfaction of returning the same divisive behavior and hurtful rhetoric to those we disagree with. Let’s not vilify. Let’s be part of bridging the gap, not wedging it further apart. Turn your emotion into humble, collaborative, prayerful action for the benefit of your neighbor. Seek to understand. Listen. Love trumps hate.
I once read a book by author James KA Smith (You Are What You Love) in which he says that apocalyptic literature – such as the final and important book of the Bible, Revelation – acts as set of louvre blinds. If you slant them the other direction, you get a new revealing of light. Today, sort of feels like that to me (I’m not saying this is “the Apocalypse”, i.e. the American pop culture’s abuse of that ancient word). As Christians, we find ourselves in a moment of awakening, a moment where a letter like Revelation calls out to us to look anew at the culture around us and to freshly attach to the hope of our Resurrected Lord. The dominant images of the empire (blue or red) need to be challenged and replaced with a new imagination fixed upon the values of God's in-breaking kingdom of mercy and justice for the least of these.
Today, I am reminded of the enduring Story of the counter-cultural, subversive God who used his power to run toward us while we were enemies, far from home. Through the incarnation, Jesus submitted to the Father and took the downward road of humility. He wept over the death of friends. He wept over the waywardness of Israel. He stopped and showed compassion to women, foreigners, children and the materially poor who were oppressed, worn thin and needy. He LOVED his enemies and prayed for those who despised him. He surrendered his life to the empire’s tool of death. And he conquered the empire. He is LORD, not Caesar.
So, today as my American blood boils and my hunger for justice for the poor is stirred and my heart laments for election of a shameful man, my hope is yet nudged further up and further in toward the kingdom that never ends, to the First and the Last, the triune God who was, who is and who is to come, the true Prince of Peace who created the nations, the King who will return to this earth to reign with his worshippers, to the Bridgegroom who will dine with his bride composed of the least of these and the poor in spirit from every tribe, tongue and people group.
Poetically, today’s Psalm (82) sang a bright song of truth and hope amid my morning’s pain and chaos. If we did not have hope in a God of mercy and justice like this, what hope would we really have on this earth? Certainly, not in a “ruler” who will fade away in just a few years!