Anchor Sunday School Class
Donald Trump is President Elect. Now What?
Maybe it is because her father, Kenneth Toler, was an esteemed political writer for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, with an office in the Mississippi State capital in Jackson, that my dear wife has it in her DNA to be absorbed in that thing called politics. Whatever, I was not the least surprised when I went to bed at our usual 11:00 pm, that she was wide awake, TV remote in hand, flipping between channels covering the 2016 election returns, settling in on the couch for what appeared to be a long night ahead. Knowing full well that Secretary Clinton was our new president, and having zero interest in listening to the pontifications from the political talking heads, I trudged up the stairs and happily fell into my welcoming bed, minus Myra. Delighted and relieved that we would soon be freed from pollster’s lugubrious prattle and political talk show’s dystopian babble, finally over this bizarre campaign, a pleasant insouciance to all the kerfuffle sweeping the land lulled me into a peaceful slumber. Good night, stuff!
Our stately old grandfather clock sounded out that it was 3:30 in the morning, when I heard Myra’s voice: “Donald Trump is our new president!!” My immediate impulse was to charge her with sleep walking and crazy talking, but again she insisted, “Donald Trump has just won the election, and you should come and see what is taking place!” She was neither ebullient nor somber, just matter of fact, though I was sure she was totally flummoxed, confused. Well, you know the rest of the story. For good or for ill, history was being made. Not in the breaking of a glass ceiling that called for the first woman to be elected president of the USA, but in a non-political, quite controversial, often obstreperous, incorrigible business tycoon! What sort of history remains to be seen.
Now what? Or more to the point: “now what for those of us who have made the astounding claim to be followers of Jesus, striving to implement His teachings into the bloodstream of human existence?” What now for those of us who believe that “Jesus is Lord, and pray that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven?” Now what for those of us who say that we prayed for God to intervene in the election, hopefully including “let justice roll on like many waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing river (Amos 5:24).” What now for the “evangelical” community that sometimes seemed to be flirting with Faustian notions, too often ignoring the insidious danger of becoming more the pawns of political machinations rather than salt and light. What now???
First of all, let those of us who have been commissioned to be “peace makers,” state what must be an axiom: Almighty God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. God does not label us beyond the labels of “children of God, the Church of Jesus Christ, In Christ people, and a community of redeemed people called to live and walk in the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT.”
Second, for goodness sakes, flee from the vitriolic rhetoric that says “if you are a true Christian you will vote for……” I know godly people who voted Democrat, and godly people who voted Republican. If the basis of our Christian unity is “which party did you vote for,” we are excused from being taken seriously as “agents of reconciliation and ambassadors for Jesus Christ.” President Obama set a beautiful tone for all of us in his classic speech today, calling for the shedding of poisonous pejoratives and divisive philippics. Secretary Clinton took a high road in her concession speech, calling on those who opposed Donald Trump to “be open, wish him well, and give him a chance.” Wow! Donald Trump is the next president, and whether that makes one feel sad or glad, he will be president. The decision to carp and whine is also a decision that contributes nothing to the common good. The decision to pray for the next president to be embraced with wisdom and surrounded by wise people meets a desperate need.
Third, I well remember hearing John F Kennedy’s inauguration speech, a master piece of true patriotism. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Our commitment in these days, days that are too often flooded with cacophony rather than community, should be to take those words to heart, but more importantly, strive to take the words of the WORD THE LORD, and be determined that “in all things He must be preeminent.” Among a host of factors, this focus will mean: (1) if there is a lack of civility in public and personal discourse, then we must let our words “be filled with grace,” and be words that seek to be “kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as Christ has forgiven you.” We must take seriously the admonishment to “guard your heart and keep corrupt talk from your lips (Proverbs 4:23). We are not called to “speak the truth.” We are called to speak the truth in love, a love that is defined by I Corinthians 13 and not by some partisan agenda nor a political platform.
(2) If some feel a darkness of uncertainty or fear, then we are called by Jesus to remember “we were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). Jesus, who is THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, has called us to be THE LIGHTS OF THE WORLD. So, NOW WHAT?
Abraham Lincoln loved to tell the story of an old black freed slave, pitch dark, thunder sounding, lightening flashing, trying to walk along a mountain path, only able to walk when the lightening flashed, but fearful when the thunder crashed, knelt in the mud and prayed: “Lord, please give me more of the light and less of that noise.” We have had the noise. Now let’s pray for the light of love, the light of kindness, to shine through us as individuals, through us as the community of faith. Some of us may not be happy with what happened, others of us may be rejoicing, but we can all be helpful in striving for peace, unity, civility, and a society that is bent on encouraging and helping everyone to become what they were created by God to become. May Shalom now define us, chase away rancor and bitterness, as we commit ourselves to manifest what it means to be a Child of God. “May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all.”