This is a portion of the homily I preached the Sunday after the election in 2016. I was afraid that Sunday, as were many people I know. I am even more afraid now, as the fears I had then are being realized in a loss of the Christian values I hold most dear – justice and mercy, loving my neighbor as myself, and respecting the dignity of every human being. Here is what I said that morning, which was preached full of emotion, with tears in my eyes, and was received with a resounding applause. It isn’t much of sermon, really, but it spoke to people that morning. I’ve added a few notes, which are in italics.
The incarnation, the birth of God in the life of Jesus, the love of God manifest in human flesh, is a sign for us that God will act in and through human beings. God acted in and through Jesus. God acted in and through the early Christian communities. God acts in and through us, hoping to bring us together, to restore peace, to build the beloved community.
Somehow God always finds a way to do this.
Because ultimately God desires that chaos be transformed into order and that sorrow be transformed into wisdom. God seeks to console us in our despair and fill us with peace. But God does not accomplish the transformation alone; we must be active participants with God in the transformational process.
That’s incarnational love.
So, whether you are someone who is pleased with the outcome of the election or whether you are someone who is grieving and fearful, remember our primary value as Christians is to respect the dignity of every human being by loving God, love self, and loving others.
Love begins with God and how we treat each other. How we respond to challenges is only a reflection of how fully mature we are in our faith and how capable we are of living our values. Those who are pleased with the outcome of this election have hope that there will be a restoration of order, which brings them comfort.
But, there are real people in the world today who fear for their lives as an outcome of the election. The fear and despair feels real, and maybe the risk is real too. Black children and transgender children are dying by suicide because living in this world now feels too risky. Children in schools right here in our area are terrified of deportation. Women wearing hijab’s are being attacked. If you are a woman who has been abused, this election may have opened wounds, resurfacing the violence that was inflicted and leaving women literally shaking and ill from fear.
In the words of Leonard Cohen, may he rest in peace, let us remember that “Love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”
Leonard Cohen had died that week, and his words and presence were palpable in many homilies that Sunday…
All of this points to a huge division in how we live out our values and the unconscious impact of systemic racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia.
We in this church claim to be open, welcoming, and affirming. We say that we are a community centered church that feeds people in mind, body, and spirit. So now the rubber hits the road because if this is really a value for us, a belief we stand behind, then we need to be a safe harbor for everyone.
We need to be love, broken, real, solid, in solidarity, for the safety of everyone.
As Anne Lamott tweeted recently, “Every time we choose the good action or response, the decent and the valuable, it builds incrementally, to renewal and resurrection.”
Love is not a victory, it’s hard work that never ends, regardless of how cold or broken life may be.
The Christian values in our baptismal covenant charge us to respect the dignity of every human being every day all the time. For me this means resisting the temptation to name call, to not say things that demean another person, don’t diagnose others, do not blame others, take responsibility for myself, for my actions, thoughts, and words. I can disagree with something a person says or does without diminishing them as person…loving God, self, and neighbor.
No doubt that has been increasingly difficult in the three and half years since the election in 2016….
The Gospel of Luke tells us that by our endurance, we will gain our souls. Let us endure to lift up others. Let us endure to be a safe place. Let us endure to be a beloved community, the kingdom of God now.
May we not be afraid to take risks, let us endure.
May we be a place of hope, let us endure in love.
May we be the beloved community built on God’s transforming grace.
May we, broken as we are, be love. Hallelujah.
The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski is an Episcopal priest serving a church in Dearborn, MI. She is a long time blogger (seekingauthenticvoice.blogspot.com) and member of the RevGalBlogPals since 2006.
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.