Due to a mixture of disbelief and grief, I did not sleep the night of the 2016 presidential election.
At sunrise, my disbelief and grief soon turned to anger.
I have felt on edge and emotionally exhausted since that day as I have watched the full-frontal attack on our institutions and system of checks and balance, on any national sense of dignity or moral and ethical standing, and on the very wellness and rights of vulnerable people.
My anger and disgust have lots of targets – the president, congressional leaders, white supremacists, and those who would put gun “rights” above common sense measures to try and protect people from gun violence.
But deep down in my heart, I am most angry at and feel betrayed by white, “evangelical” “Christians” who seem to be just fine with all of this.
In fact, they are not just fine with it. They are some of the most ardent enthusiasts for this sordid attack on decency and justice.
They make me sick.
They make me sick and they break my heart because I know they are painting a very wrong picture of what it means to follow Christ.
This false witness will lead (has lead) (is leading) many people to reject Christ.
This past Sunday I sat in worship and listened while about a dozen beautiful children sang “Jesus Loves Me” and rang bells of joy. It was wonderful and touching.
Until I cried.
As these children grow and move out into the world, will they remember and believe the message that Jesus loves them? Will they recognize it is a message for everyone?
I look at these children and wonder what will happen to them once they move beyond this loving and supportive community that is teaching and showing them that Jesus loves them.
Maybe they will end up hearing and believing the strident voices of some among the white, “evangelical” “Christian” community in our nation – voices that tell them Jesus loves them…but only as long as they are white, “American”, and straight. Will they turn “Jesus Loves Me” into a song celebrating their chosen place in God’s family at the expense of the “others” who are not?
Will they listen to and believe the voices that demonstrate through actions that the “right to life” ends at birth – pushing for policies that take food, health care, education, housing, and living-wage jobs away from the most vulnerable; that tell immigrants they are not welcome; that applaud the death penalty; that treat people of color with less (or no) respect and love; and push for a bigger and more ferocious war machine?
Will some of these boys learn that they are not responsible for their actions? Will they believe that men are “in charge”?
Will some of these girls be victims of sexual harassment or assault and be afraid to speak out about it? Will they believe they are to be subservient to the men in their lives?
Will some of these children believe that Christ would sanction or approve of them hurting people in their rush to seize power, wealth, and a false sense of “security”?
Will they believe that God – the same God who demands that we not worship false idols (such as country, wealth, power, and weapons) – somehow supports the idea of “making America great again”?
Perhaps they will end up rejecting the message that Jesus loves them because they sense that some of the loudest voices claiming “Christianity” are also the loudest voices spewing hate and violence.
Will they stumble over the cognitive dissonance between what Jesus says and what his followers do? Will they turn away?
Will some of these children find themselves among those who white, “evangelical” “Christians” reject as part of the Body of Christ?
I sat in the sanctuary.
I listened to the children.
I listened to their beautiful voices; watched their shy smiles and subtle dance moves; and marveled at the sparkle in their eyes as they sang.
Until I cried.
Lord, in your mercy, watch over each of these little ones and protect them from evil…even the evil they may run into within your church and among those who claim to know and serve you. And, Lord, help me be a voice that proclaims that you love them…a voice that proclaims you love them regardless of race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, economic status, or ability; you love them regardless of anything they bring to the table; you love them because you love them; you love them because of your grace.