26 Pentecost, Proper 28 – November 13, 2016
Wow! What a week. I think we are all exhausted by the months leading up to the election and now the aftermath of the election itself. I am saddened, deeply saddened, by some of the mean-spirited things posted on social media and what I’ve seen on the news in these last few days.
Where do we go from here? Well, Luke’s gospel this morning – interestingly enough- helps us speak to that. The setting is the Temple in Jerusalem. According to Luke, Jesus was standing in one of the courtyards watching the people come and go. He overheard some people marveling at the beauty of the Temple. He turned to them and said, “As for these things which you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another, all will be thrown down.”
You might imagine their shock, because the Temple was huge. It was massive. And not just huge, but opulent inside and out. It was the center of the City, the heart of Jerusalem. These words of Jesus must have sounded strange, even horrible, to those who heard them. The temple appeared so secure. It was a place unlike any other so far as the Jews were concerned. To speak of its destruction while walking its precincts must have been like having somebody stand up at a VFW meeting and announce that flag burning was the wave of the future. For the temple was not simply a place, even a holy place. It was a way of life, an ideology, to which captive and oppressed people held tight.
So, the disciples point out the beauty of the temple, the seat of power in which they have trusted. As long as the temple stands strong, their hope can be strong. Jesus reminds them that even the most solid elements of our lives will one day fall, will be broken, cracked and ruined. Thinking only of the physical building before them, they ask him when this will happen. Jesus is not interested in dates and times; he is interested only in them, Jesus is interested in us. “Beware that you are not led astray,” he says. “Many will come who distract you. Do not follow them. You will hear and see terrifying things, but don’t be terrified. Much devastation lies ahead—wars, earthquakes, famines, and plagues. You will be brought up on charges, handed over and persecuted. So many opportunities you will be given to discover in whom you trust, to learn what can be ultimately depended upon, to remember whose you are.
Back to present day, after the election. Remember whose you are. No matter who you voted for, or rooted against, we have witnessed waves of hatred and deep discord in the past many months.
I agree with what seminarian Kevin Cook placed on his blog:
To the people who voted for Clinton: Not all Trump supporters are racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, homophobic, white supremacists wanting to repeal the civil rights movement. In fact, the vast majority are simply faithful Republicans with a different political ideology, who believe in small government and conservative economics, and are just tired of big government overreach and political insider collusion. Understand the differences, and don’t breed hate.
If someone you know voted for Trump, it doesn’t mean they’re racist or want to deport muslims. Don’t blame them for their vote – Instead, reach out to them. Buy them a coffee and have a conversation. Ask them WHY they were able to look past Trump’s language and behavior and what they’re looking forward to. And listen, with an open mind, instead of refuting.
To the Trump supporters: Not all who voted for Hillary Clinton are politically corrupt, morally debunked, socialist, welfare abusing, fear-mongering liberals wanting to live off of the hard work of others. In fact, the vast majority of Democrats simply believe in empowering greater government influence to regulate businesses and institutions and to protect a pluralistic culture’s freedoms. Understand your differences, but don’t breed hate.
And this is important because it goes deeper than political affiliations. It’s not about sides. It is the reason this election is different and not like any other: You might not understand it; you might think people are exaggerating. But whether legitimate or not, there are groups of people feeling afraid for their civil rights, personal security, and social regression. Instead of ignoring them, rejecting them, or slandering them, LISTEN to them. If someone you know voted for Clinton, buy them a coffee and have a conversation. Ask them WHY they were able to look past Clinton’s mistrust, records, and WHY they are afraid of Trump’s presidency. And listen, with an open mind, instead of refuting.
November 8th was a big day, but now we have to decide who we will be as people of faith and what we will do about these cracks that have been revealed.
As hard or unlikely as this sounds, imagine what it might be like to ask, with genuine curiosity and compassion, why someone different from you believes what he believes and what experiences have shaped him or her? To listen, as best we can, then share our own answer to that question.
For the pure hate that has emerged, we can deny it a microphone. The aftermath of this election will be a defining moment of our nation’s character for many generations to come. May we acknowledge rupture and address it with love, patience and empathy. May we commit to being Repairers of the Breaches that have emerged, choosing a sacred, even though wobbly, path toward healing, as we lean into God’s future for our world.
As the recently deceased Leonard Cohen has said, “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” We are called to be the light. The light of Christ in a hurting world.
Jesus begins his teaching today by saying “as for these things that you see”… they were so focused on the grandeur of the temple, seeing only the building, trusting the architecture. Jesus is asking us to see, really see, what isn’t clear and obvious to the world’s eye. Jesus asks us to see, the foundation of the world that is built on faith, on God, on Jesus Christ.
If you focus only on the damaging, the destructive, the hurtful, you just might miss what is affirming, constructive, and encouraging. There is a lot that’s good about this world.
What you see determines what you have chosen to see. This is not an intentional optimism or a glass half full kind of philosophy. It is the true claim of the true hope we have in God — our God who is still present and powerful when it looks like the church is powerless in the face of all that seems to be working against the Kingdom of God.
“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” What things will we see? In our churches? In our denominations? In our nation? In our world? In one another? Because, what we see is to what we can testify — to what we will give witness.
And what we see is what we will say. If you see women as objects, you will speak about them as objects. If you see African American people and Latino people as those who matter less, you won’t speak up for them. If you see God as judge and jury, you will speak about others as deserving of condemnation.
Our testimony, our witness, gives voice to what Jesus sees, to whom God sees. God needs us to be the eyes of the Gospel when the world and those who have the loudest voices in it seem only to see the temples and towers and how they are adorned with beautiful stones.
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” So…hold on. Don’t panic. God alone is worthy of hope. The pain of our world is beyond our understanding. This does not mean it is beyond God’s. Be the change you want to see in the world, be the light of Christ in the world….shining through the cracks. Do it with love.
Those who’ve experienced the hardships of life have a witness of faith to share that’s able to weather any storm. Endurance is the key – hanging in there when your world seems to be falling apart – trusting God to give you the strength to persevere and, not only persevere, but prevail – believing with every confidence that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purposes.” (Rom. 8:28)
Jesus Christ came into the world to save us all. We are all God’s beloved children. As we honor our Veterans who gave of themselves for justice and peace and freedom….let us pray that we truly see that and that we continue to strive for justice and peace, respecting the dignity of all human beings. God loves us with an everlasting love. Amen.