This has been a tense week for all of us. I have been encouraged by the words of Bishop Jeff Lee of Chicago, who cites the Carthusian motto stat crux dum volvitur orbit, the cross remains steady as the world turns. Bishop Lee reminds us that “at the center of the universe, the heart of reality there stands a cross, not a flag, not a president, not any system of government. In its promise of a new heaven and new earth, the Book of Revelation tells us that at the center of it all is the Lamb slain from all eternity.” The axis of what truly endures is not our electoral system or our political parties, or the current or future or former President of the United States, but the cross of Christ.
Some of us will breathe a sigh of relief at the results of the election, some of us will be saddened, many of us might find ourselves relieved but also bewildered and saddened. Whatever we may be feeling, as the results of the election come into clearer focus it is time to begin asking, “What’s next?” Those of you who are fans of The West Wing will recognize this question. It’s the question President Bartlet is constantly asking, but not because he doesn’t know what to do or he feels lost. “What’s next?” means, what’s the next step, what’s the next project, what’s the next item on our agenda? Because there is much to do, so let’s get to work.
Beloved, there is much to do. The mission of the church remains unaltered, because the mission of the church is not to win elections, but to be at work in God’s Commonwealth. The Church is political, because our citizenship, as Paul says, is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), our allegiance is to God’s mission, to be friends of the Cross. We stand for anything that aids God’s mission, and we stand opposed to all that hinders it. That’s why Psalm 146 says, “Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth.” Instead, we pray “Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord their God!”
So, what is the work ahead of us? We have voted, we have participated in our democratic process. What’s next? It’s all right there in Psalm 146: if we would be friends of the cross, we must stick close to the politics of the Kingdom, to where we find God at work in the world. So, where do we find God? We find God giving justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry, setting the prisoners free, opening the eyes of the blind, lifting up those who are bowed down. We find God caring for strangers and sustaining orphans and widows. We find God rejoicing in the righteous and frustrating the way of the wicked.
In short, what’s next is what has always been our task as the Church: becoming compassion and mercy in a world prone to hardness of heart, becoming instruments of peace and justice in a world prone to violence and indifference.
What’s next is to become instruments of God’s peace. To sow love where there is hatred, to sow pardon where there is injury, to sow union where there is discord, to sow faith where there is doubt, to sow hope where there is despair, to sow light where there is darkness, to sow joy where there is sadness.
May God’s blessing be with you all as we continue the work before us, with hearts ready to respond to the deep pain of the world and ready to bear witness to the radical love of Christ, whose cross remains fixed as the anchor of all that is everlasting as the world continues to turn.
Psalm 146: Lauda, anima mea
Praise the Lord, O my soul! *
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
3 When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.
4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;
6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.
7 The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; *
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
8 The Lord loves the righteous;
the Lord cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.
9 The Lord shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.