We Have Work to Do

Greetings, beloved community,

It has been a struggle to know how best to respond to the remarkable election we’ve just experienced. There is so much anger and sadness abroad – I feel it in waves, and encounter people suffering from fear and despair who come from all walks of life. Even among those whose preferred candidates were elected, there is a sense of pain at the rupture we all see so clearly in the fabric of our national tapestry.

Although our church doesn’t engage in partisan politics, it is no secret that our ethos is one of openness, with a focus on peace through justice, acceptance and love for the marginalized and vulnerable, and a sense that Jesus’ love was especially for those who suffer. It is only right that our faith would color our worldview (otherwise, what’s the point of having a particular theology?), and our worship services continue to focus on our understanding of God’s amazing love that is for all of God’s children.

One of the most central passages of the Bible in terms of understanding Jesus’ approach to how we ought to live is the Sermon on the Mount, in which he taught his followers how faith ought to shape our lives. You’ll probably know the Sermon on the Mount by the “Beatitudes” : the “blesseds.” Father Gregory Boyle, writing in his wonderful book “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion,” has this to say about the Beatitudes:
Scripture scholars contend that the original language of the Beatitudes should not be rendered as “Blessed are the single-hearted” or “Blessed are the peacemakers” or “Blessed are those who struggle for justice.” Greater precision in translation would say, “You’re in the right place if…you are single-hearted or work for peace.” The Beatitudes is not a spirituality, after all. It’s a geography. It tells us where to stand.”

In the aftermath of the election, where we stand matters. Yes, we need to work together as a nation, and probably even more importantly, as a community. Regardless of who any one of us voted for, we need each other. We are called to stand with those who grieve, with those who hunger not only for bread but also for righteousness and justice. We are called to stand together against powers that will seek to divide us to or to demonize those who are somehow “other” than us.

I’ll admit to allowing myself some time for despair at the thought of how at risk so many critical and basic human rights seem to be in the aftermath of the election. For courage, I turn to the poet Mary Oliver in this lovely poem from her collection “A Thousand Mornings:”

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall–
what should I do? And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

Let’s get to work, my friends.

In faith,