I am an undershepherd with a firm grip on the obvious. Today the Shepherd’s sheep are in different places due to extraordinary current events. The Shepherd wants the flock together. To accomplish that, there is a need for love and compassion requiring a doubling-down on the Shepherd’s practices, wisdom, teachings, and highest values. There is a need for us to remember who we are and whose we are. Only that can bring us the oneness and love intended for us.
Drawing wisdom from biblical truths, we remember that we are subjects of The Kingdom of God just as we are children of The Father. As subjects of Christ the King, we know that we are aliens in this earthly life, being in the world but not of it. We are strangers in a foreign land, sojourning on our way Home. But as we pass through, we recognize that what happens here and now is important to God and matters greatly toward the Lord’s will that there be peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind. As children of God, we are to bring God’s love as light and salt to loving the world, sacrificing for and loving those who are hurting, marginalized, forgotten and oppressed.
The Kingdom is the LORD’S and He rules over the nations. Psalm 22:28
The United States of America is a great nation and by God’s grace it has not dissolved despite the extraordinary crises of its near 250-year sestercentennial existence. We hold our country to be one nation under God. That means an enormous amount to me and to many others, though we have shown ourselves historically to be quite capable of ungodly behavior. Perhaps the greatest of our Republic’s democratic mechanisms is our constitutional right to choose our leaders. Most every election brings celebration and disappointment, but this time the divide between those emotional dynamics is particularly acute – thus the Shepherd’s sheep being in different places. The joy and exultation of some draws a sharp contrast against the dejection and pain of others. This is evidenced right here in our parish and in virtually every corner of our society. We need to ask, what does our Lord want us to do?
The Lord has given us great and precious promises that enable us to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:4
Very often, parishioners will look to a pastor to see how to accept or react to something. If I am that to anyone, my hope is that you will see someone standing on the rock of God’s sovereignty and truth, believing in Him alone and in every promise He has made. We repeat frequently that we strive to be a Kingdom people at All Saints Church, not a cultural or political people, without discounting the relative importance of culture and politics. Despite how some might live, politics, sports, finances, vocations, and other such worldly endeavors are merely things intersecting our lives, but they are not our lives themselves. God is our life, individually and in common. Daily we are called to put self to death that Jesus may be our identity and purpose. We are crucified with Christ and we no longer live. Jesus Christ lives in us. Galatians 2:20 A message I have offered throughout the campaign season is that, no matter which candidate prevailed on Tuesday, we would awake on Wednesday to a world in which Jesus Christ remains its Lord and King. That message is not of my own imagining. It is inspired directly by the Word of God. Today I witness to its truth and the knowledge that it is Jesus who rules over our lives and world, not any person, party, or government.
All of you shall be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9
God’s Word also inspires something I repeat frequently, hopefully not ad nauseam: “I do not have to agree with you to love you.” We are to love one another no matter our different opinions. We are children of God. This requires us to make our own preferences subordinate to the needs of others. When one encounters someone deeply grieving what the other is celebrating, it is an opportunity to be tender, to listen, to encourage, and to console. Likewise, when one encounters another celebrating what the other is grieving, it is an opportunity to be generous, to be charitable, to be gracious, and even to congratulate. If we cannot be those things in our respective positions, then the fault and sin are within ourselves. Most of all, these are not times to revive campaign talking points to convince or reason with the one who is hurting or celebrating.
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18
Some might quickly retort that their level of partisan or personal conviction goes far beyond simplistic notions of tolerance for the opposing position. Jesus does not give us that option or rationale. We are commanded to love one another, not requested if it is convenient. While we are not required to abandon our prayerfully held positions, we are commanded to act in accordance with the Spirit of God and not of our own notions of how we should act. Thus, even in disagreement and extreme opposition we are to exhibit love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As God’s children, we are not permitted otherwise. Galatians 5:22
With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
God’s highest order of spiritual discipline for our relationships is sacrifice and loving prayer – for friends and enemies alike. Everyone celebrating right now should be praying for everyone who is disappointed. Everyone who is disappointed right now should be praying for everyone who is celebrating. The greatest undertaking would be that we might even pray together. Again, we are children of God. Those who are celebrating should be praying for God’s direction and help for the new President who holds their favor. Those who are grieving should also pray for God’s direction and help for the new President whom they disfavor. Indeed, every President needs our prayers, perhaps more now than ever before.
Jesus said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,
even as I have loved you, you also shall love one another.” John 13:34
Take heart that God will act to save this great nation, if we are faithful to God’s loving ways. The Holy Spirit will bless us despite good or bad leaders, if we are faithful to God’s loving ways. Our hope is in the Lord. Even a dollar bill reminds us that it is in God we trust – and in no one else. We remember that God loves us and protects us, that He is the ruler over all things, including the leadership of the United States, and that as children of God and citizens of His Kingdom, we can be joyful in all circumstances because of what Jesus has done for us.
May the God of all hope bless the United States of America, now and always.
And thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57