What’s Next?

So we’re wondering what to do now? What’s next? Whatever you think of the results of the election or the process that got us here, I don’t know many people who are really happy about it. We’re glad it’s over, but it’s not really over. I think there’s a lot of work to do and I’m not talking about forming a Cabinet or a transition team.

I’m thinking about how to put some substance into this idea of unity, bridging divides, healing after all the hateful talk. You don’t just let it go. It stays inside you. Your anger and hurt doesn’t just go away. And a lot of people are afraid.

I remember the years I spent as an interim pastor. I planned and led events looking at congregation history, church culture, unwritten rules, hopes and expectations. I’d always tell people that the main purpose was not finding “the answer.” The main purpose was to get people together to talk and tell stories, to think about their life together, and to listen to one another. The biggest benefit was intangible. Something happened to the people in that congregation just by spending time listening to each other, especially after a conflict. The outcome eventually was healing. If we took the time to listen.

So my prescription for what to do next is to talk to each other. And I mean talk to people who didn’t vote with you, who posted things you were offended by, people about whom you make judgmental assumptions. I’m talking about hard work here. Listening to people whom you disagree with to try to learn why they think and vote like they do.

I realize that I’m giving myself more work to do here. Since I’m the pastor and I’m giving this advice, I need to walk the talk. I need to organize something to bring people together to listen and talk – across these supposed divides. So, hold me accountable. Help me.

My hope is that we’ll find common ground, that maybe we’ll change for the better, that we can decide to stop cutting each other down. In the end, I don’t believe in sides, in kinds of people. I’m idealistic enough to believe that we are all human beings and that we can find common purpose.

You know there are only two kinds of people in the world, don’t you? The kind who believe there are two kinds of people and the kind who know better!

We can only discover what’s next by exploring, talking to each other, and making a commitment to listening to each other and accepting one another with all our differences — as God accepts each one of us.

This Day

I woke this morning to the strange and surprising news of the US Elections. I was disappointed, yes, but more puzzled than anything. What does this mean? What deeper and larger hopes and fears led voters to this decision?

I imagine that, had the election had a different outcome, there would be people waking up today to strange and surprising news, and wondering why others voted the way they did. We do not all have the same experiences and perceptions. The heart has its reasons.

But, I’m not writing this morning to guess at or to judge the feelings and experiences of people I don’t know.

I want to remind us all of what has not changed.

This day is still a gift from God, full of possibility and hope, ready for us to engage and use our gifts, love our neighbors, reach out and build community. Our call as Christians is still the same as it was yesterday — to bear witness to the good news we have received, to live as followers of the One who gave himself for others. Our work, our job description, and the needs of the world have not changed. The places where the world is in pain still need a healing touch. The places where people are afraid and angry still need a kind and courageous word.

We may be skeptical of the leadership and direction these election results will bring, but let us be hopeful skeptics. And let us commit ourselves to build up and not to tear down. Our leaders and our candidates set us a poor example with campaigns full of personal attacks and disdain for one another. We can do better. We can work together to build a community that serves and welcomes all of its citizens.

This is not the end. This is simply one more day. A day God gives us and in which God invites to to love and work, to live with joy, compassion and hope.