Yesterday Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President. He then delivered a brief but angry inaugural speech. I didn't watch (purposely), but most of the reviews that have come in haven't been positive. Today, crowds of people are marching in Washington, D.C. and across the country and across the globe. They march in support of women's rights and human rights. Members of my congregation are participating in some of these marches, including the one in Washington. Friends are marching across the country. My prayers and support go with them.
From the clips I've read and heard, the new President has offered a rather dystopian vision of the nation and the world. To speak of the state of the nation in terms of "American carnage" is befuddling. Yes, there are many things that need to be tended to, and there is a tendency for those in power/leadership (at any level) to lose contact with their constituents. But, surely the nation is not aflame or at war with itself. This isn't 1861, even if it feels like it is to some. Indeed, it's not 1967 or 1968.
Going forward we need to cast an alternative vision. It needs to be a vision of hope and grace. The Old Testament reading for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany, the text that some will be considering on January 29th, reminds us that what God desires of us is that "we do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). I will have a reflection posted on this blog on Tuesday that will explore the passage more fully, but this is the vision we need to cast. It needs to be a vision of justice, love, mercy, humility, grace, peace. This isn't a call for an easy unity. It is a call for a re-orientation of our values and commitments so that we might be more outward looking.
Let us pray for the new President, but let us pray that his heart will be open not to patriotism but to compassion and inclusion. Let us pray for the nation, for those who support and those who do not support the President, that we will all embrace justice and mercy. May this be our calling card.
In the meantime, let us give thanks for those who march for justice today!