Malachi 4:1-2a; Psalm 98; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19
The events of this past week caused me to stop and think about what it means to live in the United States of America and whether that is compatible with living in the Kingdom of Heaven now and not yet. This week we remember our Veterans. In Great Britain, Canada and the British Commonwealth November 11th is Remembrance Day when those who died in wars since World War I are remembered. A red poppy is often worn. I wore one this week and was asked if it wasn’t too political to wear. Does it mean I support war? What about those whose ancestors fought on the other side? What about those of Japanese descent who spent World War II in internment camps? What about those who suffered at the hands of the British and their allies?
In the United States those who died in wars are remembered on Memorial Day in May. Veterans’ Day is when we remember those who fought and fight for their country whether they were killed in the line of duty or return home safely or return home with physical and .psychological disabilities, with missing limbs or eyes or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and lost youth. Why do these young men and women fight? They fight for our way of life, for democracy, for capitalism, to protect our interests, for justice and peace. A question I ask is do we fight for those same things here and now where we live and can we do it non-violently?
This week we also held elections for a new president and other offices with Donald Trump and the Republican Party the presumed winners. For some this is cause for celebration, an opportunity for change for those unhappy with the status quo and current affairs. For others this has been a time of grief with many wondering what this will mean for women and women’s rights to live without sexual harassment, with reproductive freedom and equality; what will this mean for immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, and people of color; what will it mean for those who identify as homosexual and LGBTQ; what will it mean for health care for the poor and the powerless; what will it mean for the environment; what will it mean for education?
No matter where you stand on the election, remember that we are ALL children of God and that God loves everyone, Democrat and Republican, American and Mexican, heterosexual and homosexual, white and non-white, male and female, Christian and non-Christian, rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless, you and me. Share your concerns and listen to the concerns of others.
This morning’s reading from the Second letter to the Thessalonians is sometimes used to justify the elimination of social welfare programs, “anyone unwilling to work should not eat”, but I do not believe that was Paul’s intent. Paul and many of his followers believed that Jesus Christ’s return was imminent so marriage, property ownership and many other things were no longer deemed a priority or important. Some people used it as an excuse to no longer work or support their families. These are the people Paul is reprimanding, those who can and are able to work but choose not to. Paul is telling them to work hard and not to live off the graciousness of others. Paul is NOT talking about the sick, the elderly, the foreigner, children, women, the powerless and those who are unable to work or are not able to support themselves. Paul is reminding the Thessalonians to remember what he taught them, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and to work hard.
We know that the Good News is that we are beloved children of God and that God loves us and that God loves everyone including those we disagree with and our enemies. We are called to follow the example of Jesus who walked out among the people, all the people including the poor and the powerless. Jesus gives us the example of regular pray and maintaining a relationship with God, to love God. Jesus gives us the example of loving our neighbor and our self, to communicate with others sharing our story and listening non-judgmentally and with curiosity to their story, to build a relationship with our family, our friends, our neighbor and the stranger, to share from the bounty that we have with those who have less, to feed the hungry, to heal the sick and to provide for the needs of the foreigner, the stranger and the powerless. The creation story tells us that humankind was created to care for God’s creation and Jesus confirms in his parables that God continues to care for the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, for God’s creation and so we should continue to love and care for our environment and the good gift of life that God has given to us.
As Christians in the Episcopal tradition, this is what we should fight for whether as members of the American Armed Forces, as politicians, or as citizens and residents of this country and this state of Michigan. We should fight for the right and the freedom to love and to worship God whether as an Episcopalian, Catholic or Protestant, Christian, Jew, or Muslim, Hindu, Atheist or Agnostic. We should fight for justice, respect and peace for all people. We should fight for clean water and fresh, healthy food for all people, here at home and around the world. We should fight for suitable clothing and shelter for all people. We should fight for education and health care for all people, not just those who can afford it or whom society deems worthy. We should fight for the poor and the powerless including children. We should share our story and our Christian story especially with our children and our young families and listen attentively to their stories. We should fight for a clean, healthy environment for ourselves, for our grandchildren, for our international neighbors and for all of God’s creatures. Remember God created us in his own image to love and to be loved in relationship with all of God’s creation. Amen.