My children are all grown up now and rarely seem to need my voice to guide them, nonetheless there were two nights over this past week when they called to express their concerns about the world and I sensed they wanted to hear my voice. They now live under other roofs and I have long since stopped tucking them in with fairy tales and a prayer, but I have felt an increasing need to speak to their concerns and as always to offer a prayer.
On Tuesday evening my children were in touch to express anxiety about the unfolding U.S. election. Among other things they were and are concerned for the safety of the world and for the plight of women's rights. Of course they are not alone in their concerns and it is for this reason I write.
I tried to console them as a father might by telling them of other elections and presidencies that led to anxieties about nuclear safety which the world survived, and of other presidents and leaders who also objectified women but who could not halt the progress women made. I also told them of Presidents whose elections seemed to offer little hope but who nonetheless made great progress and that we had to be hopeful and give the new President a chance. However, none of us know the future and after such a long and emotionally charged campaign it is natural that some people will be feeling anxious about what is ahead.
There is no denying that Donald Trump appealed to people with xenophobic, racist and sexist attitudes and now those same people feel vindicated, but I don't believe that is why he was elected. He was elected because far more people were simply feeling forgotten, left out and afraid in a system and a world that overwhelms them. Donald Trump tapped into their feelings as no other candidate did and he offered to lead those people back to the promised land. And of course there were others who voted for him who felt they were choosing between the lesser of two evils.
Now Donald Trump isn't a modern day Moses and it is not realistic to expect him to take America back to the promised land. But that doesn't make those anxious with feelings of estrangement from the system and even anger towards it wrong. And before we go blaming America for giving us Donald Trump, we must remember that even here in Toronto we have elected the odd notorious character. At the end of the day he won the election and he has to be given a chance.
But ultimately, I believe faith in God is the answer, not faith in a political leader. It is for this reason we must pray for America and for Donald Trump and those who are working most closely with him. At the end of the day, our hope is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Leaders will come and go and in no time be forgotten, but God is from everlasting to everlasting.
My greatest concern for America at the moment is for the healing of the great division that seems to exist. People on both sides remain angry and fearful and address each other with hostility. Families have been divided over this campaign and so have churches. I find it very sad and feel we must also pray for the healing of this wound in America. As followers of Jesus we should not be afraid to speak into this division in America in the name of our Lord who over and over again said, "Fear not." We need to be inviting people to put their trust in God.
On Thursday night I received calls from my children again. This time the news of Leonard Cohen's death had upset them. One of them saw a tragic irony that as a seeming jester ascends to the throne, the voice of the poet/prophet has fallen silent. But love will not be silenced. We must let our words and our deeds become poetry and prophecy in this day. And just as I sought to reassure my children, we must seek to reassure all God's children including those with whom we disagree as well as our neighbours whatever their faith may be, and the strangers in our midst and those living on the margins of this world, that grace and love are very much alive and will yet have the last word. I have written a prayer for our day. Please be free to make it your own.
Gracious and eternal God, you are from everlasting to everlasting, perfectly united in love as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God. Guide us by your Spirit as we seek eternal wisdom by which to live in these challenging times. Unite us as your children that our life together might offer a beacon of hope in a world darkened and divided by fear and anger. And embolden us as we seek to speak the truth in love through both word and deed. We pray for the healing of the divisions in American and of the divisions in our own land and in our families and work places. May we be instruments of peace and unity.
And we pray that the people of the United States of America and people in all places would discover afresh that true unity only comes through love and grace and mutual respect. And so give us ears to truly hear and eyes to see to the depths of despair and misery and open our hearts to love as you love. We thank you for offering such love in the person of your Son, Jesus Christ, whose coming into this world is a sign that you have not given up on us, and whose victory over death empowers our hope in your bright eternal day.
Help us to stay hopeful and grateful in all times, for you have surrounded us with the beauty and wonder of your creation and you have blessed us with the love of family, neighbour and friend. Thank you.
We pray for U.S. President Obama and ask that you would strengthen him with wisdom day by day as he seeks to ensure a time of peaceful transition. We pray too for President-Elect, Trump and ask that you would surround him with good and wise advisors. And we pray that in the lonely hours when he faces difficult decisions that only he can make, he would take time to pause and listen in the silence. When he does O God, speak your word that he might hear it. Whisper into his heart that it might melt away any fear and fill him with faith. But whisper also O God into all of our hearts, because it is then that our hearts are warmed to love through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Grace & Peace,