15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jos 24:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Today’s blog post is a summary of much of what I said during yesterday’s sermon.
The above quote is from Joshua’s final remarks to the Israelites as he is preparing to hand over leadership of God’s people to a new generation. It is a simple and yet profound summary of the work that God’s Chosen People wrestle with repeatedly and in every age. The question is ultimately about who we are and, more importantly, whose we are.
I am confident that our emotional responses to the election returns are continuing to run the gamut, just as they did during the campaign, That being said, in the aftermath of Election Day and in spite of the ongoing uncertainty about what the next weeks will bring, we as people of faith are called to choose.
Joshua makes it clear that the choice remains one between looking backward and looking forward with hope.
Whether it is the gods of the Egyptians or those of the Amorites, Joshua is calling the LORD’s people to remember the source of the power that has given them the costly and sometimes unwelcome gift of freedom and liberty. At the heart of the covenant that Joshua is calling the people to renew is a commitment to look forward and to risk stability and comfort for the more challenging vision of the Kingdom of God.
Our choice is not between one candidate or another. It is not between one party or another. Our choice is about remembering the relative importance of the electoral process when our national life is set alongside that of Jesus’s call for us to follow him.
I would submit that to be faithful members of a diverse community requires massive amounts of patience, a high tolerance for ambiguity, a profound knowledge of and trust in God’s goodness and steadfast love and the willingness to grapple with hard questions like the question Joshua asks of God’s Chosen People at Schechem.
Can we make the difficult choice to remember that Jesus was not a Democrat or a Republican and that Jesus is the ultimate authority on the trajectory of our faith and the Mission of God?
Can we make the difficult choice to look for and acknowledge the authentic conflicts between being a follower of Jesus and of being a good _____________ (fill in with whatever label you like) and to be patient and prayerful enough for God’s dream to be fulfilled?
How do we reconcile the vision of candidates or political parties with the mandates of the Gospel?
I believe that the answers to all of these questions is yes. I also believe that it will require a deep and abiding commitment to speak, pray, listen and reflect on our individual hopes and dreams for our parish, our neighborhoods, our community, our state, our nation and the whole of creation which God has entrusted to our care.
May we make good and just decisions.
May we admit our errors and missteps.
May we never forget that every human being, without exception, bears a holy mark and that we will never encounter another person that God does not love as much as God loves any of us.
As we continue to wait for clarity to emerge on our national political stage, my fervent prayer for us at St. Thomas, and for people of faith across the political spectrum is that we remember the promise of Jesus to be with us always.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If Jesus is with us, who then can be against us?