From the Preacherman….
It has been called the most rancorous and divisive election in the history of
American politics. One candidate was described by his opponents as the persona
of radical atheism, one sworn to overthrowing all order, both divine and human.
The other candidate was cast by opponents as a haughty monarchist whose
despotic presidency had betrayed the cause of American liberty. Both candidates
believed themselves to be victims of the most base, vulgar, sordid, palpable lies.
They were bitterly at odds over the scope and size of the federal government at
home and the preservation of American honor abroad. “Neither reason nor
justice can be expected from either side,” said one foreign observer. The British
Prime Minister wrote, “The Country offers the spectacle of a perpetual struggle
between two parties.” (from American Sanctuary by A. Roger Ekirch)
The year? No, not 2020, or 2016, or 2000, or 1980, or 1960. The year of that
election was 1800. Its two bitterly warring candidates were Thomas Jefferson
and John Adams. Yes, 220 years ago two of our Founding Fathers, people
essential and crucial to our nation and its history, provided us with our first truly
modern presidential election. What is the old saying from Mark Twain? History
never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.
I have a serious question for you. What if the good, old days were just, you
know, days, with deep and serious problems, as well as wondrous gifts and
revelations? All of my life I have heard people talk about how great things were
back in their day, when they were younger, twenty or thirty years ago. But if we
went back to that day, there would be people saying the same thing about a
previous era. What if every generation of people has its moments, great and
awful, and the key is living in that moment fully, faithfully, for all we are worth?
We don’t get to choose the time in which we live. We get to choose how we will
live in that time.
I like to remind people that if we were to keep going back 20, 30 or even
50 years, eventually we would reach the time of Jesus. We could watch him call
his disciples and live with their wonderful unity, magnanimity and devotion.
Well, not really. He called Matthew, a tax collector, whose day job was working
for Rome. He called Simon, a Zealot, who was part of a group organized for the
armed overthrow of the Roman occupation of Israel. I bet that made for some
pleasant dinner conversation between Simon and Matthew. How often did Jesus
have to break up that fight? And we think politics today is bad.
I say this because I believe every generation has its moment. This is ours.
How shall we live with one another? As a follower of the man who called those
odd disciples to follow him, I ask you how shall we live with one another? Can we
cooperate and argue and find places to stand together because the Prince of
Peace calls us there? Or will we just fight and kill each other until we are too tired
to go on and the nation crumbles?
This is our moment. How shall we live?