Thursday, November 10, 2016

After the Election: Meditations on Isaiah 65: 17-25, Proper 28, Year C...Next to last Sunday after Pentecost

The electoral system in the United States of America is a remarkable political tool that has allowed for over 225 years a peaceful transfer of power from person to person and party to party. There have been times when that transfer has been the only peace folks have known in the moment. It comes at times when we need it most, and at times when our divisions seem to feel like all is shattered and we almost cannot bear it. That peaceful transfer has been a constant, and a hallmark of our democracy. Healthy or sick, whole or broken, united or divided: our process is to cast our ballots and elect our leaders. At that point, the responsibility of governing and the mantle of leadership changes hands.

Eichenberg's "Peaceable Kingdom"
We live now in an age of social media, fonts of reaction that spout around us the moment anything happens, anywhere. Reaction quickly becomes volatile reactivity. Discourse that informs and educates, that builds up, is often lost in the overwhelming voices that all seem to cry out at once for attention. In this day and age, we are beginning I think to hear the voice of
humanity as God hears it. The challenge for us is that we lack God's awareness...for God sees creation: time and space, from end to end. God is, in God's infinite self, able to parse the blurry cry of humanity into distinct songs and then is able to hear each voice in chorus and in particular. We lack that gift...and so we struggle.

We struggle to articulate, and then effect, a vision for a world in which we are able to live in harmony and peace with each other....and that the world itself might be at rest before us. Isaiah, in this coming Sunday's reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, offers an image of that state that God knows is before us...and admits that it is by God's agency that we will have it. The hard part is that we try so often, too often, to assume that we can effect it by our will in our time. Moreover, we assume that the ideal state we project that this ideal state can be had in this life when most of our human institutions are built to lift up one by pushing down or suppressing another. God's justice, the real thing, comes with only one cost: that we surrender earthly agendas and embrace a humble submission to God and thus to each other. Mercy and peace will then gain the upper hand over fear and hate.

Isaiah 65:17-25
For I am about to create new heavens
     and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
     or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
     in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
     and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
     an infant that lives but a few days,
     or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
     and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
     they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
     they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
     and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain,
     or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord--
     and their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
     while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
     the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
     but the serpent-- its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
     on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

So, upon the shoulders of our officials-elect will soon fall the mantle of office and the responsibility to lead. May that leadership be a blessing to the people of our country...and to the wider world. May those who leave office be able to look back and reflect on their choices and conduct, and may they find healing and renewal after their sojourn in such overwhelming responsibility. May we, as people of faith, resolve to pray for our leaders, that they may be just, fair and humble in the face of crises and challenges. May we also work to keep our voices alive. Governance is not a transaction, but a deep conversation between the governed and those who govern...and all of it perforce must be focused on building a nation that holds to the ideals upon which it is founded....and continue to exist for its people without regard to class, color, creed, gender, sexuality, or any other way that in the past we have chosen to repress or excise.

We are one....one nation under constitutional governance....and one people created, loved and redeemed by our God.

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