The shadow of the cross on top of our church is in the foreground of the Memorial to the Lost on our church lawn remembering the 202 lives lost to gun violence in the greater Washington DC region in 2015.
This is an anxious time in our country following the ugliest presidential election in memory. I worry about how our nation will come together and begin the healing process now that it’s over. This election has exposed significant tears in our social fabric. The hateful and demeaning rhetoric and behavior we have seen is especially frightening.
These things matter deeply and our anxiety is understandable. That’s why we need something beyond our present American politics to help ground us. Steps toward such groundedness include focusing on the many other aspects of my life including my family, my friends, my work, my local community, and my church.
This involves a God oriented perspective. The word “God” denotes the ultimate which relativizes all other powers in our world. For example, the Apostle Paul prays for the people in the church of Ephesus who he describes as a community of saints. He prays that they will have a broader vision and hope—the evocative phrase used is that “the eyes of your heart might be enlightened.”
This involves three things expressed by suggestive Greek words. The first is the word gnosis (knowledge); the second is Sophia (wisdom), and the third is apocalypses (revelation). He takes it even further by claiming that Jesus, the Christ has been raised and is seated at the right-hand of God. Jesus is therefore far above all other authority, power, and dominion (Ephesians 1: 15:23).
African American religious scholar Cornel West speaks so powerfully to times like these, “I speak as a Christian—one whose commitment to democracy is very deep but whose Christian convictions are even deeper. Democracy is not my faith. And American democracy is not my idol . . . To be a Christian—a follower of Jesus Christ—is to love wisdom, love justice, and love freedom” (Democracy Matters, 171-72).
When I get especially anxious, I remember that our American political system is a power that is brought down to size by God’s purposes and what God is doing in and through Jesus in our midst. Furthermore, the church is Jesus’ arms and feet in our world. Paul calls us the body of Christ.