Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This morning we woke up to the shocking reality of our nation’s decision to elect Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States of America. In the many communications that I’ve had with people in these few hours, fear, real fear, appears as an overwhelming, underlying experience and expression.
Below, United Church of Christ leadership speak to this and our call as followers of Jesus:
“Mr. Trump was able to win this election in spite of clear evidence from him of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, and Islamaphobia.This was so blatant that many of his own party’s leaders could not endorse him.Many who voted for him knew this, and yet their fears about what is happening in their lives overrode their distaste for his bombast. …He must now lead a country where people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, the disabled, and an LGBT community all feel the sting and impact of his public speech.”
And, from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Minister and President, Rev. Sharon Watkins:
“No matter who won the election, today we Disciples were still going to be, and still are, a pro-reconciling/anti-racist church. We are still a church that works tirelessly, led by Disciples women (clergy and lay), to end human trafficking. We are still a church that welcomes more refugees and immigrants than almost any other compared to our size. We are still a church seeking to offer grace and welcome to LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We are still a church that learns from and shares with Christian and interfaith partners around the globe. We are still a church that seeks to walk lightly on this earth, knowing that ‘all of creation waits for revealing of the children of God.’” (Rom. 8:19).
As for me, my mind goes to the early church of the first two centuries, living amidst the Roman Empire. It was a context in which polytheism was the norm. Roman culture had many gods that were believed to be involved in every aspect of life, needing sacrifice and service in order to be pleased. As people gave their lives in these acts of devotion, it shaped them. The followers of Jesus, though, proclaimed one God. This was a great threat in that place and time. A son or daughter, neighbor or friend, husband or wife may come home and no longer sacrifice or serve Roma, the god of Rome, or Saturn, the god of agriculture, and any other. To displease the gods, it was believed, could make them angry and have impact on crops or the city or the social order or whatever other area of life. People believed their lives dependent upon the gods of Rome, and the Christian commitment to serve the One God was a threat as it made them, their worldview, and their actions different than the dominant culture.
Today, November 9, 2016, is a day that we, a people of faith, recognize our call to serve the one God of the Gospel of Jesus, a homeless carpenter mystic. Our faith and lives are not to be oriented above anything else, including the gods of nationalism, patriotism, economic pursuits and systems, family structures, philosophies, supremacy fantasies, or any other potential idol that calls for our devotion and following in pursuit of some personal benefit. Larry Hurtado is a scholar who specializes in studying the ancient Church and ancient writings. He, nor his peers, have ever been able to find any writing beyond Judaic and Christian writings in that early period that spoke of any gods to be of love, act with love, or call to love. This God and their understanding and devotion made early followers of Jesus different. That is the way of our God! In this and all times, including those of fear and uncertainty, on God’s love and life we may depend. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5) We are to become even more of who the God of the Gospel of Jesus calls us to be in this divided, fractured, harmful world as we serve the One God above all else.Together, we will love God, one another, ourselves, and the whole of the human family. That is our call. From friends to enemies, we will express the love of God, and this will continue to give us security and hope and new life. God loves you, I love you, and we are held together by the love of God in and through one another. We will travel this journey, together, and in doing so we will be strong and we will become buoyant with hope.
Let us shine brighter in this and all the days to come that we may continue being a movement of wholeness in this broken world!