I have spent the past couple of weeks preparing for and then preaching and teaching in the tristate area. Repeatedly, I have heard across age groups and genders this anxiety that with the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States that all is lost, that we have taken ten steps backward, that the sky is falling. Again and again, I had to remind Christians that God holds the future, that God’s progress is not found in a booth or on a ballot, that the power of God is not determined by government policies. Regardless of who is in the White House, the Church remains God’s house.
Before the votes were in, I shared on social media and in an interview with Baptist News Global that God is not a political deity, that persons are not voting for the Messiah but a president, that America is not the kingdom of God. The stakes are never that high. I had long stopped watching the debates and the news reports that followed. I can only take so much and the campaign season caused me to exceed my quota for hateful, ignorant and ill- advised comments. And I was not alone as other persons had chosen to leave social media altogether until the votes were in.
Now, that they’ve been counted, protests have begun and continue for nearly a week with chants like “not my president.” The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that more than 300 acts of intimidation, harassment and hate crimes have occurred, the majority of which are in support of the hate rhetoric of president- elect Trump. Today, a headline reads “Ape in Heels,” apparently a West Virginia official thought this a fitting description of the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. And there are those who will say, “It’s West Virginia,” which seems to suggest that it is to be expected and somehow less harmful. But, anywhere this language is tolerated makes it acceptable any where.
Historically, it has been proven that hate is not the way, that we are all lost if we allow hate to lead us.
So, what can we do? We can pray. And it cannot be as naïve, replaceable or simple as we have surmised– because the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how. I shared this with readers for Smyth & Helwys’ Coracle blog in a post titled “A Prayer that Teaches” and it bears repeating:
Rather than close their eyes and fumble around their mouths for words, they asked Jesus to tell them what to say. And he did. We call it the Lord’s Prayer and many churches recite it when serving the Lord’s Supper. But, the lesson in prayer does not stop there.
As we shared communion earlier this month at my church, these words revealed new meaning: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” With the election season coming to an end, I heard these words differently. Jesus is giving us his response to our reality.
It is not to be routinely recited but we are repeating after Jesus, who says the kingdom, the empire, the country belongs to him. Jesus says the power—without political party affiliation, campaign, or votes—belongs to him. Jesus says the glory, honor, and praise belong to him always and without question. His prayer teaches us to speak from the Reality of realities. Jesus does not come in red or blue. He is not a political deity who panders to voters. Instead, his gospel reminds us that he came in search of conversation and relationship, so much so that he will teach us what to say. So, I’m with him.