Back this summer I bought a few masks from UCC Resources — one of them features the word PEACE in bright colors. Shopping last week, a grocer told me he liked my mask because we needed more peace in our world; of course, I couldn’t agree more. Here we are on the eve of one of the most important elections in the history of our country, with our nation more deeply polarized than ever in most of our lives. And like many of you, I wonder, “how did we get here?”
As I step back to take the long view to answer that question — or perhaps better stated, when I elevate above the clouds and take the spiritual view — I can’t help but turn to Spirit and ask two questions:”What are we to learn from these events?” and “What is this dramatic unveiling of a brooding anger in America begging us to understand?”This is what I have learned over the past few years:
About Anger: I learned that I really know very little of the lives of a large swath of Americans; I surely didn’t know how much anger was boiling, hidden under what I now understand as a thin veneer of politeness most Americans adopt to grease the wheels of work-a-day life and commerce so they can get their paycheck and support their families. Survival is at stake.
About Fear: I realized, as a straight white woman, it has been a continually deepening awareness of how many persons of color, or persons who are non-heteronormative, live their lives with a sometimes crippling fear that they or their loved ones will be the victim of a hate crime. Survival is at stake.
About The Pinch: I confirmed what I have long suspected, that the fear which manifests as anger and aggression is largely economically-driven, even if those who are really angry don’t know what is driving their anger. There seems a generalized lack of well-being in the country, and it’s no wonder, as obscene troves of resources are held by the wealthiest 1% with the rest of us continuing to slip further down the economic slope. Again, survival is at stake.
After Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples locked themselves away for sake of their own survival. They hid away until clarity, in the fire of the Holy Spirit, descended upon them and sent them out to speak hope and survival to all. The disciples, too, were surprised to learn how they were reaching the ears of people who didn’t speak the same language and yet could still understand their message of love, wholeness, inclusion, and enough for all.
While we know there is no quick fix for this Pandora’s Box of the angry, fearful, broken American psyche that has become known to us in the past few years, like the disciples, we, too, might be surprised at how effective our message of love, wholeness, inclusion, and enough for all may be heard when enabled by the Holy Spirit. We recognize as Christians, that we are to help heal this hurting world, using the sometimes direct, and sometimes subversive power of God’s love.
Regardless of which candidates are selected to lead our country, it is clear we have massive work to do in the months and years to come. And in a strangely counter-intuitive, turn weakness-into-strength way, we’re more equipped for the journey ahead because we have now seen a better map of the fear, the anger, and the tasks for the mission field. Americans of all sorts and belief systems are hurting, and they are begging us to understand them, listen to them, help them survive.
Today, on the eve of this election, I am praying your peace. I am praying peace for each and every person who sits in a pew or, more recently, on a Zoom link to share in the life of Christ. I am praying for each church leader, moderator, councilperson, deacon, trustee or elder, who is tasked with ensuring the church is a blessing in their community. I am praying for every chaplain, or other ministry worker, who is bringing light and healing to the work to which they are called. I am praying for every pastor, associate pastor, or youth leader, who is struggling this week to articulate a message of wholeness in the midst of clear and vast separation.
I have run your faces through my mind — yes, yours too — and lifted you in prayer for the weeks ahead, so that you have the strength, calmness, agility, and spiritual resources emboldened by the Holy Spirit to run this race which now begins anew.
Praying PEACE for our people, for our nation, and for our world, relying deeply on the guidance of Spirit, and the wisdom of Romans 8:31: “If God is with us, who can be against us?”
— Rev. Sue