Dear Hyde Park family,
“We are now in the wake of one of the most captivating, bewildering presidential elections of our lifetime.”
That was the opening sentence of my Midweek Message from Nov. 10, 2016, following the election of President Donald Trump four years ago. I re-read that message this past week, and in the wake of the election of President-elect Joe Biden, I discovered that much of what I wrote then is just as relevant and important to remember now.
Here again is a reprise of that message, which was titled “What is Still True.” I simply swapped the name of Donald Trump with that of Joe Biden, and I think you’ll discover that its five truths are just as timely for us today.
I acknowledge that the responses to Mr. Biden’s election are varied in this congregation, and it is not my intention to wade into partisan conversations during this tender time in our democracy. What interests me is answering a question that can bring healing across the divides: “If so much of what we thought we knew about this election has been disproven, what can we claim as factual?
Put more simply, “What is still true?” So, here are a few thoughts, by no means comprehensive:
1. What is still true is that democracy worked. In what was the highest voter turnout in history, millions of people cast their ballot, participating in a free and open exercise of their right to vote. Next January, we presume there will once again be a peaceful transition of power that will be the envy of many nations in the world. Regardless of how you feel (and are still feeling) about the result, we can still marvel at the democratic process.
2. What is still true is that we will pray for President-Elect Biden. Just as every other president has warranted the prayers of God’s people, we can pray for our new president and all of our leaders. The prayer that I was determined to pray before Tuesday, even before the results were clear, is just as important now: “Lord, may all our elected leaders exercise a wisdom that comes from humility, and pursue a justice that is governed by love.”
3. What is still true is that we need to be agents of peace, healing and reconciliation. What is still true is that this election has caused harm. There is nothing more important to debate at this time than what needs to be done for all of us to seek the welfare of our common citizenry, and to translate those intentions into actions of justice, love and peace.
4. What is still true is that we don’t know how to talk across our differences. As much as social media has brought us together, it has made us forget how to live together. It is too easy to assign whatever voice, tone, and intention we choose to someone’s Facebook comment, tweet or email. It is much harder to look someone eye to eye, over a cup of coffee, in order to see the image of God within them. And as much as 24-hour news keeps us constantly wired to what is happening, it has fostered a red vs. blue tribalism fueled by contentious surrogates and talking heads. We have forgotten how to talk, how to listen, and how to respond.
5. What’s still true is the mission of this church. As “strangers and aliens” in this land, we remember that our primary citizenship is to the Kingdom of God, which crosses political boundaries and transcends tribalism. Nothing from last Tuesday’s election changes what is at the core of this church’s mission. We will continue to make God’s love real through expressions of warm-heartedness (an embrace of a diversity of people) and open-mindedness (an embrace of a diversity of perspectives). Anyone disillusioned by the unpredictability of life will find in this place the steady reliability of the one thing that is ultimately always true: the faithful love and sovereign grace of God, given to us in Jesus Christ. And at the end of the day, and now more than ever, it is still good to be the church.
In addition, my Facebook devotional last Monday offered some fuller thoughts on the election, which you can view here. I reflected on the role and limits of our political leaders from a faith perspective, and offered ways for us to pray for President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, through the lens of Micah 6:8.
And don’t forget to join us this Sunday, as we explore a powerful story from Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, as part of our “Step into This Story” worship series. We will be inspired by the generosity of the early Christians, which will prompt us to prayerfully consider our estimates of giving for 2021, to be turned in Nov. 22.
Grace and peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega, Senior Pastor
Hyde Park United Methodist