The unexpected (at least for many) outcome of our presidential election, and the suicide of a local 8th grader known to some of our kids at St. Mark's - and certainly to hundreds of "our" kids in the wider community - has made this a tumultuous week for most of us. It has raised some of the biggest questions that we can be asked to face, and I for one, have struggled to know how best to pray about many of them. It's one of those times when I cherish St. Paul's reminder that we do not have to have words for our prayers, and can trust the Holy Spirit to be praying in us in ways beyond our knowing.
I want you to know that I am keenly aware that St. Mark's is not a monolithic community when it comes to our individual perspectives on the best ways to enact our deepest values in the pubic arena of government policy (and thus in the public arena of "politics"). Some of us woke up Wednesday morning relieved and happy, feeling like our voices were finally heard and that good things were now ahead of us, and others of us woke to a feeling of deep despair and fear. And therein lies our challenge; it is potentially hard work to find each other across such painful divides. But it is also the gift we have been given. If you and I can do that good, holy, hard work right here "at home", in our own congregation, then surely we will be able to share that gift with a community and a country that so deeply needs it.
What you and I have an opportunity to do now is witness to the abiding presence of God, to the constant call of Jesus Christ to the always-challenging and always-blessed work of reconciliation, and to the power of the Holy Spirit energizing in us a deeper love of God and love of neighbor. We are all Americans, all citizens of this great nation that has been given to each of us as a gift to steward well. We have the blessing of a democracy in which the peaceful transfer of power is present, and we have the gift of living in the world's most powerful country, whose power means it (and thus we) bear the responsibility of making choices that work for the common good of ALL of God's children. There are few other days to better remember this gift and responsibility, than on this, our Veterans' Day, when we honor those who have given so much of themselves in order to make certain we might keep both this great gift and this awesome responsibility. Caring for our veterans is one place we can all start immediately!
I hope that in the coming days and weeks we can create safe spaces to talk about our deepest feelings and thoughts about what all this might mean. Part of what makes this difficult is the uncertainty that lies in front of us; none of us know what, exactly, all this will, in fact, mean. But both scripture and experience us teach us that love has the power to cast out all fear, that compassion is always where we find the heart of God, and that struggling in community is always better than struggling alone.
I trust that God will give us the gifts we need to do this work, and I believe deeply that blessings will emerge for all of us if we stay faithful to the task. We now have the gift of an opportunity to reflect on and share about what we hold most deeply in life, and I can think of no greater gift. In truth, it's what the call to being a disciple of Jesus is always - perhaps even only! - about; searching for the truth until we find it, knocking on every door that needs to be opened, staying the course, together, on this pilgrim way.
In the meantime, we will have a blessed Sunday with a baptism and a youth preacher at both services, happy reminders that daily life continues even as larger events swirl around us! I hope to see many of you there.
I am holding all of you in my heart and prayers, and trust that you are doing the same -- for one another and for this UNITED States of America.
God bless us all,