As a pastor who leads this congregation, I feel as though I must say something about the outcome of this election though I am fairly speechless. I am disheartened and I am sad. The race for the White House was ugly. I believe that it exposed things about us, the American public, that we were surprised about. When Donald Trump said in his acceptance speech that he would be a “President for all Americans” I want to believe that because I am a naturally optimistic and hopeful person. And, at this point I don’t have a choice but to hope. However, that declaration doesn’t square with the hateful things he has said about my gender, about Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, Blacks, poor and disabled throughout the election season. During his acceptance speech I even heard someone shout “kill Obama!” During this election hate speech became normalized; misogyny, xenophobia and fear mongering acceptable.
I spent the morning reading news stories, social media feed and texting family members. It does seem like there is a major movement worldwide among the working class to reject internationalism and engagement and return to isolationism and protectionism. Some of my friends who believe in a Biblical apocalypse see this as a natural progression toward the “end times.”
In the midst of all of this, my thoughts turned toward a favorite theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was critical of the German church and the German government during the rise of Hitler. He was ultimately executed because he was part of a plot to murder Hitler. I am not comparing the US to Germany, nor am I comparing Trump to Hitler. Bonhoeffer spoke truth in terrible times that were filled with fear and hatred. He said: “I’m still discovering, right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God.”
We have to continue, as most of you have said on your social media feed, to roll up our sleeves and work for a just and peaceful world. We have to continue as God’s people to live “completely in this world.” We have to keep spreading the message of love and hope one person at a time. Each one of us, every single day in every single encounter that we have. That is the work of faith.
Bonhoeffer also said “We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” Driving a spoke into the wheel of injustice is also our work as well. This work will also have to be grass roots, person to person, and we will have to have courage, faith and stamina to keep doing what is right.
Today may we all join the choir of hope.