Season of Healing: How We Move Forward

Season of Healing: How We Move Forward

By Odyssey Networks , Nov 09, 2016
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The day after a tumultuous election ON Scripture contributors reflect on what it means to be a person of faith and how to move forward as a country.

Onleilove "Chika" Alston, M.Div., MSW, Executive Director of Faith in NY

Now that the election is over we must have honest conversations about the ways in which the Christian Church has allowed racism and sexism to guide our politics more than the Biblical call to justice. Now that the election is over those of us who do the work of justice must gather the courage to be strategic prophets organizing, creating, healing and loving so that our country and the world can be safe for all of God's children.

Rev. Verity A. Jones, Executive director of the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Christian Theological Seminary

Love always wins. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.” We may have to travel the long arc of history for a while longer, but it does and it will bend toward justice, toward light, toward love. This we know.

Rev. Jim Kast-Keat, Associate Minister for Education at Middle Collegiate Church


Two steps forward, one step back. 2008. 2012. 2016.

Two steps forward, one step back.

I spent Tuesday, November 8, 2016 working at my local polling place. I saw an 18 year old woman voting for the first time, her eyes beaming as she walked into her voting booth, proud to vote like a girl.

I met a Pakistani couple, the husband was registered to vote but the wife wasn’t. “I’ve almost completed my citizenship,” she told me. “I’ll be back here to vote in four years.”

I met an upper middle class man wearing a suit that I can never afford who asked for my help with his ballot. “I don’t care if you see who I’m voting for, but are these Democrat judges my only option.” “Yes,” I say, “they’re running uncontested.” “Do I have to vote for them?” he asks. “No, you can leave that section blank."

Two steps forward, one step back. A huge step back.

To all the bad hombres and nasty women and more: we will never forget. And we will move forward together. Not one step back.

The Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, Dean of Duke Chapel and Associate Professor of Homiletics at Duke University

No matter the state of the nation or the status of our feelings, God is still God, the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Hope in God for our future rests secure in God’s hands. Let us pray just as much as we may protest.

Rev. Matthew Skinner, Associate Professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul

One month ago I wrote this in an ON Scripture post about Luke 18:1-8: "Elections and their accompanying hype have a way of distracting Christians from a more basic calling [that is, advocacy]....There can be no joyful gloating or crippling despair in churches after the election. The people of God remain dedicated complainers [and advocates] in all seasons." While I still believe those words, they were easier to write then than they are to read this morning. I do not know yet what new or expanded forms of advocacy I will take up in my vocation as a theological educator, but I know I must do so. My neighbor needs me to.

Also, this morning I am reminded that theology matters. Already I find myself reading (and thus will teach) the Bible with (re)new(ed) eyes. This is a book that, for the most part, originally addressed audiences that felt themselves besieged by threats to their survival. Many of those audiences saw themselves as an at-risk yet chosen minority in and sometimes apart from their larger social world. What modern people of faith "do" with that biblical rhetoric makes all the difference in the world, as we once again are learning very well. May God save us from all interpretations and theologies that vilify and incite violence against others. May we read and lead faithfully -- with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.


Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, Associate Professor of Homiletics at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

Whoever was declared President Elect in the early hours of this morning, we were going to be faced with an immense challenge in this nation to listen, to pray, to accept, to honor, to protect, to learn, and to talk. This election brought out some of the worst in all of us in both large and small ways. This election opened up a chasm of racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia evident to one side. And this election opened up a chasm of political corruption, illegal activity, crooked behavior, and questioned integrity to the other. We clearly see this world through totally different lenses. So we wake up as a divided nation – and it’s not new. We’ve been divided for some time. But the chasm feels bigger than ever. The differences feel insurmountable.

But we did not wake up alone today. We have a God who is bigger than the chasm and more powerful than the differences. That’s how we face this new day in America – honoring the God of ALL of us, loving our brothers and sisters, showing grace to those with different opinions than ours, listening to the pain of those who are afraid, and praying for this divide to be healed. But we’ve also got work to do. We’ve got a lot to do to ensure that the least, the last, and lost, and the left behind are protected and honored. We’ve got a lot to do to ensure that we hold all of our leaders accountable to work for everyone to find a way up in this world. Today I pray and start the hard work of moving forward together. And we’re not alone. We’re never alone. And that gives me hope as we work to bridge the chasm that faces our nation.

Rev. Dr. Eric D. Barreto, Weyerhaeuser Associate Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary

Lament is a faithful practice. Lament looks at a broken world and says it ought not be so. Lament demands something more than quotidian injustice. Lament rages. Lament shames. Lament mourns. Lament is a faithful practice.

Anger is a faithful practice. Anger that reflects God’s righteousness is necessary in a world so full of oppression. The temptation, of course, is that our anger reflects our fears, not God’s righteousness. This is why we need each other as the Spirit speaks in, with, and through us as we discern God’s future. Anger is a faithful practice.

Hope is a faithful practice. Hope eschews naivete. Hope rejects facile happiness. Hope is not just a bandage. Hope is radical and fierce and hard. Hope is a faithful practice.

Listening is a faithful practice. Listening requires us to center on someone’s else story, someone else’s pain. Listening, real listening, faithful listening is dangerous because it is transformative. It can change you because the story of another just might change the way you see the world. Listening is a faithful practice.

Lament with those who lament. Rage with those who rage. Hope with those who hope. But most of all, listen. Listen. Listen to the pain and fear our neighbors of color are feeling. Listen to the hopelessness of the bullied and the rejected. Listen to the anguish of our LBGTQ kin, for they know the bitterness of isolation. Listen to the believer, the doubter who calls out to God, “Help my unbelief.” Listen because we never want to in this place again. Listen because tomorrow we must rise as Jesus himself rose from the depths of death.

Dr. Greg Carey, Professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary

Over the past twelve hours I've lived with people weeping over the election: people of color, women, LGBTQ people. I've wept with them. They hurt not because they lost an election but because they feel directly targeted by Trump and his supporters. It's also the time when I teach the Gospel of John to students, a gospel that understands what it means to be rejected and misunderstood. John stands alone among the gospels for recognizing times when "Love one another" has to be our first step.

Dr. Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary.

My best thought is to return to Lamentations 3:18-24. When hope is gone it is time to remember and let the truth of God’s past govern our future. God is the ruler yet!

The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior minister of Middle Collegiate Church

I was in denial. I did not realize it, but I was. Friends gathered. We watched. We ate, we drank wine, we laughed. We watched that map. It was changing and they were worried and I was not. I was not worried; I was clear. Some were frightened. I was not. I had felt the fear, been through the fear, had been frightened about the hate-speech, the threats of deportations and wall-building, and the potential ban on my Muslim siblings. I was frightened of the blatant racism and xenophobia, feeling that my Black life could matter even less in the future than it does now. I had felt the fear and the loathing about the misogyny, the predatory behavior. I had felt the fear and trusted we would not, could not elect such a one, even in the face of private servers and legacy presidencies.

Now, I was ready, brave, and expecting the inevitable election of the first woman president of these United States of America.

I was in denial. At 2:30a, finally sleepy, I dreamt of a celebration.

And some are celebrating. Americans whose hearts feel this is the one they have been waiting for. To disrupt politics as usual. To create jobs, and to strengthen the borders and to make America great again.

I was in denial.

Maybe you were, too. Maybe you were thinking, even though we have seen so very much hatred and violence and sadness in this past year that things were not that bad, not this bad. But friends, things are off the rail, off the chain. Our people are hurting. And this hurts.

Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States of America.

I am shocked. I am sadder than I can describe. My heart is broken. I have been on the phone with so many people in my congregation and in meetings with my staff, and the shared sorrow is devastating.

We are grieving.

And, even as we grieve, we need to be clear: The only thing to heal what is broken in these United States is love. Revolutionary love. We need a love revolution, people; a spiritual revolution. We need to dig deep and think right now: What would LOVE do? What would Love say? How would Love organize? How would Love look for allies? How would Love behave toward those who didn’t vote like us? We need a love revolution!

Love can do powerful things. Here are ten ideas:

1.)    Get with some people you love and hug them, and cry with them, and let them love you back.

2.)    Drink water, eat well, move your butt, get some sleep—take care of you.

3.)    Have some honest conversations—with folk who think like you AND with your family member who voted for Trump. Ask them about their dreams and listen carefully. This is where our revolution will need to find traction.

4.)    Imagine that you are building a bridge. With whom do you need to build it? Bridges are desperately needed right now! One way to start building that bridge is to pray. For Mr. Trump.

5.)    Whatever your spiritual practices are, practice them. I am praying for you right now, and I am going to sing in a minute, just to keep it flowing.

6.)    Go see the movie Loving. It opens this weekend and will help you cry some of the tears that are inside you. They need to flow.

7.)    Come to Middle Church on Thursday, November 10 at 6:30p for a time of singing and loving and reflection and emergency hugs.

8.)    Come to worship at Middle Church on Sunday, November 13 at 11:15a EST for worship. If you can’t come in person, join us on livestream. We will lament, sing, and pray. We will have a conversation right after worship about our feelings and how we can be used by God to make our nation a more perfect union. Both choirs are singing, I am preaching, and we are baptizing two amazing babies.

9.)    Come to Mosaic: a Concert for Unity on Wednesday, November 16, at 6:30p. Fierce music will create beauty from the places our world feels broken. And donations will benefit homeless LGBT youth, because we will continue to work for freedom for all.

10.) Remember that you were created in love, by a God of love. Remember that you ARE love and know that we can--with our love--make it better.

This is a hot-mess time, friends, a time for which love is the only antidote. Now more than ever, love is the only way forward.

The Rev. Adam Copeland, Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota

In the run-up to the election, many sent around unrealistic but illustrative electoral college maps: if only millennials voted, if only white men voted, if only Hispanic women voted. I even saw a map according to SEC football fans. But yesterday, the entire nation voted, and the outcome defied the expectations of pundits and pollsters.

As the reality of the election results set in, I’m particularly aware of our tendency, in our public narrative, to slice and dice the electorate into bits and pieces. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he exhorted that community to focus on their unity amidst their diversity, “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another” (Rom. 12:6).

Today, it’s very hard for me to feel much oneness. I’m tired, scared, and sad. And yet, my faith pushes me back to our God who is bigger than any election, political party, or country. God’s love is for all. God’s justice is for all. And, as Paul reminds me again, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:38-39). Nothing.


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