Last week was marked by a momentous occasion. A new, and very controversial president was sworn in. I cannot remember any past President being the target of so much hate. His family (including his children) has also been the targets of rumors, innuendos, and blasting from the media. While I do not agree with his policies, his plans for our country, or his stance on many key issues, I cannot reconcile the behavior and hateful words that have been shared on social media. Even a few of my fellow clergy have gone so far as to spread messages of hate. But this is not the message we get from the teachings of Jesus Christ. In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12), He offers to reassure His disciples that though they face hardships and trials, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.
5:2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
5:11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
5:12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
As we read through these teachings of Jesus to His disciples, we learn much about what is not only awaiting us in the future, but also what we can expect now. For those who have lost hope, like so many did after the recent election, we are reassured that the kingdom of heaven (God’s love and comfort), is with us right now (“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”). Jesus then goes on to describe the blessings for those who are sad, who are humble in spirit, who may be down on their luck, who always tries to do whats right, and who always strives to treat others fairly. While not promising riches or fame, Jesus is offering something more precious.
In this time of turmoil in our country, Jesus teaches us to be peacemakers. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:9-10). We are also cautioned to hold our tongue ( “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account). Though we may disagree with the policies and practices of the new President, we should not use this time as an opportunity to spread poison, whether in our speech or through our actions.
Instead of spreading hate, we should be spreading hope. Instead of pushing people away (because we may disagree with their ideals), we should be pulling people in to our faith, teaching them about the love of Christ. Instead of teaching our children its ok to hate someone because of the color of their skin, their sex, their choice of partner, or their religion, we should be setting an example of love for all human kind. Peace begins with us, the children of God.
A Prayer for Our Country:
bless our nation
and make it true
to the ideas of freedom and justice
and brotherhood for all who make it great.
Guard us from war,
from fire and wind,
from compromise, fear, confusion.
Be close to our president and our statesmen;
give them vision and courage,
as they ponder decisions affecting peace
and the future of the world.
Make me more deeply aware of my heritage;
realizing not only my rights
but also my duties
and responsibilities as a citizen.
Make this great land
and all its people
know clearly Your will,
that they may fulfill
the destiny ordained for us
in the salvation of the nations,
and the restoring of all things in Christ.