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Our texts this week were from 2 Thessalonians 3 and Luke 21. In Thessalonians, Paul reminds us to not grow weary of doing what is right. [And] Luke 21 is a popular text about the end of the world; no stone will be left on stone, nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom. But, it concludes with Christ reminding us to remain in him.
I have a policy, I don’t preach politics from the pulpit. But if I ignored the election and its aftermath, I would be negligent as a preacher. However, its not necessarily the way you envision. If you have heard me preach, if you have watched these videos, a common theme is division. A common theme is that although we have differences, they don’t have to be divisions. Let alone dangerous divisions.
Our country, our people of America, are more divided than perhaps ever with the exception of the Civil War. 40% of Americans believe that the opposing political party’s view is so misguided that it posses a threat to national security. 49% of Republicans are fearful of Democrats. 55% of Democrats are fearful of Republicans. And over 50% of those polled during exit polls said they were either concerned or fearful of a Trump presidency. What this tells us is that people are scared for themselves, for their family, their loved ones, their friends, for this country.
For months we have seen poor conduct, poor behavior, and have heard dangerous rhetoric. We have heard these words and people are asked to forget them because of one speech. [And] That is not going to happen. Eric Church has a song called ‘Kill a Word’ about how words can not be unspoken or unheard and one lines says he would trade “lies and hate for love and truth”. If I could do that, I would but we cant.
We the people, we as Americans, have a choice to make; a choice we have every day of our lives to make. We can either give into hate and intolerance and violence, which breeds more hate, intolerance, and violence or we can listen to Christ in his words to love one another as he first loved us. Its a tall order. [But] what we do know is that hate breeds more hate, intolerance breeds more intolerance, and violence breeds more violence.
At a time when our country is deeply wounded and has great divisions, we can make a choice to try and seek opportunities to heal that wound, to reach across that divide for reconciling; met some body who is different than you, have a conversation with and listen to people who differ from you whether that is their political beliefs, their religious beliefs, their gender, their race, their ethnicity, [and] seek opportunities to engage the “other” in order to heal those wounds and reach across those division because either side of the political spectrum is without guilt. That is the choice we have.
We are called to love.
We are called to serve.
Make that your choice.
In dark times, such as after the shooting at Pulse and with how people are envisioning our world to come, there is a song that I find comfort in; Garth Brook’s ‘The Change’ which he wrote after the Oklahoma City Bombing and it is about what good are you really doing with the little good that you are doing. Its “like tryin to stop a fire with the moisture from a kiss” and the response is I don’t do this to change the world. “I do this so this world will know that it will not change me” and if “one person holds on to hope than hope is never really gone”.
So, brothers and sisters, I invite you to not grow weary of doing what is right. I invite you to love one another, to serve one another, to seek opportunities to heal these deep wounds and to reconcile these great divisions, and to cling onto hope.
That’s my invitation. That’s my challenge.
In essence, don’t let this world change you. Don’t let this world make you give into hate, intolerance, and violence, but rather heal wounds, reconcile divisions, love, serve, and cling to hope.
Sermon was original preached on November 13, 2016.