The message on the church signboard captured how some of us have felt during this election season: “Jesus is coming again … hopefully before the election.”
In the past few days, I’ve realized how much I am looking forward to Election Day being over. Lots of us feel election fatigue. Even people who typically love politics feel wearied.
And there’s been plenty of angst. A sizable proportion of Americans will wake up Wednesday morning and conclude that the country is doomed, that the end of life as we’ve known it is near.
But I’m more hopeful than that.
Words of Jesus in the Gospel suggest a way forward. He told us to love God with our whole being, to love our neighbor as we love our very selves. And, in words read and discussed in my congregation on Sunday, he spoke of the blessedness of those who love those with whom we are at odds. He even urged, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
Amid the wounding conversations and combative rhetoric on the political front, those words might allow us to take a deep breath, a strengthening breath.
That’s not to say what Jesus says is not challenging. It is.
Our world’s conventional wisdom says, blessed are those who, when hit, hit back harder. But Jesus gives the assurance that those who find a way to love across the strife and division will be blessed. That blessedness offers a promise of deep, counter-intuitive happiness. He’s saying we can be grounded in an enduring joy and a sturdy love that no election outcome can ultimately rattle.
That is hope for those who are afraid. And help for those who are weary. Jesus’ words remind us that whatever happens, now is not the time to stop working for what is right and wholesome and holy.
This election presents us not just a showdown, but an opportunity — to strive to live together and work together, and rebuild our nation.
This vision begins locally. I have in view not the corridors of national power, but rather South Carolina’s neighborhoods, houses of worship, schools and clubs, classrooms. I mean starting with our homes, our children.
For whatever we wake up to on Wednesday morning, there will be plenty of work for us to do — together.
The Very Rev. Timothy Jones
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral