- Luke 21:5–19
- Isaiah 65:17–25
Sermon: A Failure of Imagination
We are a country divided.
However you voted this past Tuesday, and however you feel about the outcome of the election, there is no escaping that fact that we, as a nation, do not understand one another.
According to Pew Research Center polling, almost half of both Democrats and Republicans say that the other party’s policies are so misguided they pose a threat to the nation. Moreover, the same poll revealed that 55% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans say that the other party makes them ‘afraid.’1http://www.people-press.org/2016/06/22/partisanship-and-political-animosity-in-2016/ We no longer trust one another; we no longer understand one another; we can no longer see from the perspective of those who sit across the political aisle from us.
Undoubtedly we were divided before the election began, but after a season of candidates highlighting and exploiting our differences, the divide now seems so vast that the thought of ever being able to embrace the politics of those with whom we disagree seems unthinkable.
A pulpit is a challenging place to stand the weekend after such an election, just as a church pew can be a difficult place to sit. I have no doubt that we are in mixed company—that we did not all vote for the same candidate and that we do not all share the same feelings about the outcome of the election. Moreover, I’m guessing that we are able to sit next to one another (and not split ourselves politically across the aisle) because we do not ask. We may suspect the politics of those around us, but we do not ask; and, if you are like me, you assume that the people around you share both your values and your views about how those values are best expressed in the political sphere.
The Pew Research Center’s polling makes clear that, for the majority of us, it is unfathomable that other people would vote for a different candidate. We literally cannot comprehend how people we know, people who live in the same world we do, who sit in the same pews with us on Sunday mornings, who hold values similar to our own, could possibly vote for the other candidate. And yet we know that they did. And as long as we’re not willing to talk about it, as long as we fear that person and the policies they endorse, we will never make progress.
Yet our focus, at least in this place and for this year, is ‘together.’ And so I want to begin with the assumption that however you voted this past week and whatever your feelings about the outcome, you voted out of your values and your convictions. And, I want to believe that our values, if not exactly the same, are common ones. Each of us, after all, shows up in this place each week to listen for God’s Word, to seek to follow Jesus, to give ourselves space from the overwhelming bombardment of cultural and popular marketing and messaging, to give ourselves at least a chance of listening for that still small voice of God that resides in each of us and speaks to what we know in our hearts to be true.
And so, without discounting our potentially vast political differences, but focusing instead on our common faith and our search for God, our search for that which is good and true, we must ask ourselves, as people of faith, how is it that we are to respond, together, to the cultural divide that has been revealed in this election and to the new political scene in which we find ourselves. [Read more…]
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