We got skunked Tuesday night. When I say we, I mean Howie. As a result, our whole house reeked, even though we didn’t let him inside before dousing him with the magic solution of baking soda, peroxide and liquid dish soap. There is nothing quite like fresh skunk smell. Nothing. Poor Howie was most regretful, but the damage was done. And the residual stench lingers on.
Sadly, it made me think of our current political situation. Americans will soon head to the polls to elect our 45th President of the United States, in addition to representatives at every level of government. I’m not sure the stakes have ever been higher, at least not in a very long time. There are rifts in our union, many of which have tangled and intractable roots. Fears are being stoked deliberately and intentionally, in an effort to manipulate actions and outcomes. What we give our attention to grows.
Enormous amounts of money are being invested by both major parties to convince voters that their worldview, their story, their way forward is the right one, the one in which you will find yourself so fully that you, too, will reject the other side, even demonize them. Many Christians on both sides have rushed to buy into their party’s story, dragging God with them as justification. No party is the savior of the world, and none can be the scapegoat. Perhaps the absence of true listening, the impulse to reject rather than respect our common kinship, is the stench suffocating us all.
We follow one who invites us to live here and now within God’s story, to see situations and people through God’s eyes. Jesus extends kindness and compassion, honoring the preciousness of every human being, encouraging us to stand with one another, not against. When faced with an angry mob of righteous ones, he simply says, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” We, all of us, fall woefully short. We are limited. Like magpies, we are easily distracted away from loving God and loving our neighbor as our self. Not as much as we love our self, rather as an extension of our very self. Not just those like us, or who like what we like, every human being is me, is you. We are all in this together.
In fact, Jesus’ anger is reserved for those who wield power to manipulate, to exclude, to reject and divide. Why? Because God’s story isn’t over until everyone is included. What if we put our energy and attention into re-membering God’s story, dwelling on what God is drawing all of us into? And then reflecting on what that would look like in our world, committing to practices that mirror love, that foundational kinship. We can choose to join our voices and our efforts to be bridge builders at every level, dedicating ourselves to strengthening the broad consensus that already does exist among people in our nation on many topics. We can put our attention on common ground. We can choose to value being in relationship over being right.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Jesus saves us from our love affair with hubris, inviting us to rediscover and dwell within the tenderness of God’s love story with all of creation. Only from the true heart of Love can we commit to seeking to live that love in our actions and interactions with all that we are. Working with, praying for and trusting in the power of Love to heal and transform us all until God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Hope to see you Sunday,