Last Saturday I went to the ordination of J. Clarkson and Nathan Bourne to the sacred order of deacons. They both vowed to “look for Christ in all others” and to make Christ’s “redemptive love known by [their] word and example to those among whom [they] live, and work, and worship.” As deacons, they are sent into the world to serve all persons so that their lives are a witness to the reconciling love of the Lord.
Two days before this, the North Carolina Legislature moved in the opposite direction. Their work was not reconciling but divisive; not community building but widening existing separations; and not redemptive but reductive. Without dialogue, without consideration, without public input, they stripped the new Governor of much of his authority because he is a Democrat and they are Republicans and because Democrats decades ago had done something similar. That is not leadership and it does little for the common good. At some point, someone must stop the cycle of recriminations and lead.
Nothing positive can be built from negativity. Sunday morning I was listening to Krista Tippet on the way to church. She was interviewing two Buddhist teachers and they said, “Sometimes we are rowing harder and harder but never untie the boat from the dock.”
It is time for us—our state legislature; our Congress; and we the people—time to untie the rope that keeps us stuck in the never-ending rock throwing and leave the dock to head towards the New Jerusalem. It doesn’t mean we paste over our differences, nor do we silence our criticism when we hear our leaders fail to lead. Of course in a country like ours, there will be many points of view.
But it does mean we embrace our baptismal vows to build up the body and act accordingly. At some point, it doesn’t matter if we are smarter or wiser or holier than Donald Trump or the North Carolina legislators. What matters is that we are agents of God’s reign of justice peace and mercy here and now. It’s a waste of time to spend the next four years railing against the President. I have been there in the past with previous Presidents, and it wasn’t good for my soul and didn’t change anything.
My hope comes from watching the television program Full Frontal this week and seeing Samantha Bee and Glenn Beck make peace with each other simply because their hope for this country is deeper than their differences. The kind of work we all must do is this: get out of our silos of self-righteousness and find others who want a future big enough for everyone to flourish and then reach across the divide.
I pray for our leaders every day—especially for Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan—I am praying that they flourish as children of God. More than that, I am also praying for myself---praying that I can see the face of Jesus in them.