THE TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C
ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
THE REVEREND BARRY GRIFFIN
In his letter to the church in Rome, St. Paul wrote: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Late Tuesday night about one half of this nation began to rejoice while the other half began to weep. Mr. Trump will be our next president. Many are delighted. Many are dismayed.
On a lighter note, Thursday morning a friend and recently retired priest of our diocese made a comment that made me smile. He said something like this: I am so glad I’m retired. You know why? Because I don’t have to preach this Sunday! Good luck to those who must.
So what’s a preacher to do? At St. Augustine’s we’re near the end of our Annual Stewardship Campaign. I could preach on stewardship and totally ignore what’s going on around us. But that would be cowardly and dishonest. You deserve better than that. You deserve honesty about what’s happening in our world.
We are living in sensitive days. If you know somebody’s politics and they are similar to your own, you might bring up the election. If you don’t know somebody’s politics, or if you know for a fact that their politics are different than your own, you might choose to avoid the subject altogether.
These are sensitive days. Relationships are at risk, even within families. This Thanksgiving may be one we’ll remember for a long, long time.
As your pastor, I don’t know how each of you voted, nor should I. But I’m sure about this: we have Republican elephants seated in our pews, and we have Democratic donkeys. We have independents, as well.
Most importantly, and most wonderfully for me, you elephants, you donkeys, and you independents are seated right next to each other. That’s how it should be.
I thank God it’s that way. I hope you do, too. Actually, I’m sure you do or you wouldn’t be here. You would have left this church long ago. You would have found a place where people are like-minded. But you haven’t done that. You have stayed.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, Paul tells us, and weep with those who weep. For me, that means this: love people where they are and be gracious. You can do that. You can do that and still maintain your personal integrity, your convictions and your passions.
Here’s how that might work. Democrats can say to Republicans: Congratulations. It was a hard-fought campaign, and your candidate won. I remember what it feels like to win. It feels great. Enjoy.
And Republicans can say to Democrats: I remember what it feels like to lose. It feels awful. Your candidate was a formidable opponent. Don’t lose heart. There’s a place for you at the American table. We want you there.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Love people where they are and be gracious. You can do that. If others are not gracious in return, well that’s their problem, not yours. You’ll sleep well tonight. They will not.
Politics are extremely important. People of faith are called to be deeply involved with the world. We are called to do our part to make things better. The world matters. God so loved the world that he gave his only son.
So there’s that. But if any of us believe that our political party is going to fix the world, we are deceived. This is not going to happen. Like anything else, a political party can become an idol. Friends, we don’t worship at the altar of politics. We worship at the altar of Jesus Christ.
The altar of Jesus Christ brings people together. Every Sunday donkeys and elephants and independents gather around this altar. I guess you could say we’re a zoo. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike go deeper than their politics. And when that happens, well, you know what happens: we get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. That glimpse keeps us going. It always will.
And now, a word about stewardship. Our stewardship theme this year is “I have decided to follow Jesus.” Given the deep divisions in our nation these days, what does it look like to follow Jesus?
I believe it looks like what Paul told the Roman Christians: rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. That can be very hard to do, especially when you and your values are attacked, or you feel they are attacked. But nobody ever said following Jesus was easy. It’s not.
So be gracious. When necessary, rise above the fray. Demonstrate humility. Speak your truth in love, always remembering that it’s your truth, and your truth is flawed because you are flawed, just like everybody else.
Love people where they are. And remember this: wherever they are, rejoicing or weeping, you’ve been there before. And if you live long enough, you’ll be there again.
As a wise person once said, use soft words. Because some day you may have to eat them
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