I told myself I wouldn’t let it happen. I prayed that I’d steer clear of it. I wrote two blog posts in a row against it. And I failed. Last night, as I watched the election results, I fell into fear. As a minister of the Gospel, called to care for “young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor,” I stand firm against any and all forms of racism, sexism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-semtism, and any other oppressive force employed by human beings against another human being. I watched, somewhat from the periphery for my own mental well being, as the candidate Donald Trump tapped into these very forces in order to drum up an electorate from every nook and cranny in every one stoplight town in America. And last night, as the map turned red along with the stock markets, I let fear creep into my heart.
I confess before God and you that I thought the worst, if only briefly, about the millions of Americans, some of whom are my dear friends, who cast a vote for Donald Trump. I got angry at the hatred and fear that seem to run rampant in this country. I went to bed at 11:30 bitter and afraid. I hope you will forgive me for my fearful thoughts last night. I know that God already has. I woke up to my alarm clock at 5, picked up my phone, and read Morning Prayer. Somewhere in them midst of Suffrages A, I found the peace that passes all understanding. I let go of the fear and the anger, and I was reminded, yet again, that my calling to care for the outcast, oppressed, widows, and orphans does not depend on who occupies the White House. I felt a calm resolve to be about the Gospel and to show and share the love of God with everyone I meet.
Then I opened Facebook and saw my newsfeed filled with the vitriol that had made my night so restless, and I felt sad, and, quite frankly, embarrassed by the reaction of my Hillary Clinton supporting friends. It seems that both sides have forgotten that the other is made in the image of God and we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. As I scrolled and wondered how it is I had moved from fear to peace so quickly, I kept being drawn to the word “hope.” The reaction I was seeing was one of hopelessness, and I realized I can’t buy into hopeless. Instead, as the Collect for Proper 28 reads, I am holding fast to hope.
Over and over again in the Scriptures, the mouthpiece of God, be it an angel, a prophet, or even God’s own voice, commands us to not be afraid. When we fall into fear, we allow the deceiver access to our lives. We see others as the enemy. We see resources as scarce. We engage in zero sum games, when the reality is that in the Kingdom of God, there are no losers. Fear is not the Gospel, hope is, and hope leads us to action. So today, like every other day, I commit to sharing the good news of God’s love with a world that needs to hear it; I commit to checking my privilege with regularity; I commit to caring for my LGBT sisters and brothers; I commit to learning more about the ways in which young black men are incarcerated and killed at a much higher rate than any other group of people; I commit to supporting my Muslim brothers and sisters in their right to worship without fear; I commit to making sure the poor have the means by which to escape their poverty; I commit to welcoming immigrants and refugees as Jesus Christ; I commit to a life of hope because God is still in control. I hope you will join me in holding fast to the hope that comes from God and God alone.
You’ll have to forgive a little bit of eisegesis on the Collect for Proper 28C, but the day after a Presidential election this divisive seems to invite some pastoral latitude.