Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Sermon for Election Day 2016

“Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” I
love the poetry of this phrase, taken from the 85th Psalm.  And tonight, it forms the basis of our fraction anthem, a part of the liturgy where we respond to the self-giving of Jesus Christ that we experience in the Eucharist.  We give thanks for the broken body of Jesus made real and tangible in the breaking of the bread.  We give thanks because his once broken body is the only brokenness that we should ever revel in.

And yet, here we are, gathering on an evening where the brokenness of our nation is painfully apparent.  I’m not just speaking about different political party affiliations, for those affiliations can be, and have been, held without transforming friends and family members into antagonists.  I’m speaking about the way we allow these differences to form us in such a way that ‘the Others’, those who think differently than us, become distant enough in our minds that we make monsters of them.  Perhaps you have been able to rise above this temptation, but if so, you would be in a very small minority.  Every election cycle, we see the walls built up, the relationships fractured, and the vehemence that ensues.  We see the illusion of a United States shatter before our eyes, and we are faced with a pretty simple truth: it can be exceedingly hard to live with those with whom we disagree, especially when the disagreements we engage in are tied so closely to issues of American citizenship and political ideology.

But, for those of us who have been claimed by Christ in baptism and sealed by the Holy Spirit, nothing should supplant our primary identity as children of God.  No president, party, or platform…no country of origin or flag…we are Christians first, and with that baptismal identity comes a command: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ No qualifications, no amendments or asterisks…just this ‘new command.’ But, in practice, this is exceedingly difficult.  It’s exceedingly difficult to remain in relationship with and to love those with whom we disagree so profoundly…with those who seem to operate with a fundamentally different worldview.

Yet, it is through us, through or commitment to love in the face of division, through our commitment to our primary identities as baptized Christians…it is only through us that Jesus’ prayer tonight will ever be a reality: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me…I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’

When the polls close tonight, and all of the votes have been tallied, there will be some who will be filled with joy, while others will bow their heads in dejection.  The nation will wake up tomorrow knowing which candidate has won.  And regardless of who that is, the fractures in our common life will persist.  And that is when you come in, dear sisters and brothers.  That is when you come in with the Gospel on your lips and healing in your hands, showing the world that love conquers hate, that love conquers division, that love can reach across the aisle in recognition of the dignity and worth of ‘the Other’.  ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.’ Let this be our clarion call.  Let’s together rise up to meet the challenges that a fractured nation presents.  Let us show the world that, at the depths of our hearts, God is our party, and Christ is our platform.  For this is something we can all agree on.

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