The poet W. H. Auden labelled the 20th Century “the Age of Anxiety.”  There was fear from the Cold War, the lingering memory of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the turmoil of revolutions in countries like Russia and China.  We, of course, have gone beyond anxiety and live in a time of terror.  It wasn’t so long ago that our government measured the degree of terror with colors---like a cultural barometer.
    I think of this because I am speaking at the Diocese of Louisiana Convention on addiction and sobriety on November 4-5 three days before the election.
It came to me that in God’s economy, focusing on sobriety in its deepest sense is the only way to prepare for the turmoil and aftermath of the election. We all know the first part of the serenity prayer, but what about the rest?  Written by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, here’s the prayer in its entirety:
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed; the courage to change the things which can be changed; and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time. Enjoying one moment at a time. Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that You will make all things right, if I surrender to Your will. So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next.”
So much of our anxiety comes from our lack of control and from our projection of our fears onto others.  The voices of “What if” are a drumbeat in our heads. Our anxiety over the future keeps us from being present in the only moment we have, which is now. Serenity comes from enjoying one moment at a time and acknowledging that inner growth and communal growth always involves suffering. There is no way to resurrection except through the cross.  
For me, my need for the future to work out as I think it should is what must be crucified if I am to be free to discover Christ in the openness of the present moment. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This is the day regardless of who gets elected because this is the only day we have to be alive and experience God’s grace.
I watch the news and hear of events like the burning of a Republican headquarters building in Hillsboro, NC or crowds chanting “Lock her up” and I yearn for serenity to come to our nation. Perhaps serenity is less an idea people can learn and more an example they can emulate.  Perhaps our calling as faithful followers of the crucified one is to show the world what serenity or faithfulness looks like.  Perhaps now is the time for us to be living examples of the blessing we hear week after week: “The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the love of God and of God’s son Jesus Christ our Lord.”  
If we aren’t agents of serenity, who will be?