Here we are, rejoicing because the wait is over. Our country has a new president elect, Joe Biden. For many this result feels like victory and they rightfully take to the streets to share their joy. There is relief as well as expectation in this joy. The image, however, that came to my mind this morning was of a newly formed nation, a people of God, an oppressed people who had followed Moses out of slavery in Egypt, covenanted with God at Mt Sinai, and reached the edge of the promised land (Numbers 13 and 14). I could imagine them relieved at reaching the end of their journey and looking forward to their new life in a new land.
I feel like we’ve been here before, rejoicing as we reach the edge of promise, feel a new hope, and dare to believe that the opportunity to form a more perfect Union in our country has arrived. That our country is ready to establish justice for all who live within our borders. That we will ensure tranquility and peace in the place of hatred and violence. That concern for the general welfare of everyone will replace rampaging capitalism and greed. That our Constitution will be respected as a living document meant to establish unity and equality in a democratic country. That, as Christians, our struggle with those who oppose God’s way of doing things will be reduced. I remember feeling like this when Barack Obama was the president elect.
We’ve been here before and there is danger that we will go no further than the edge of promise. The people who escaped Egypt and became a new nation as they gathered at Mt Sinai reached the edge of the promised land, but they looked ahead and what they saw overwhelmed them. The forces that stood against them looked too powerful, too strong, too dangerous to face. They retreated and wandered in the wilderness for another generation.
However, maybe this time things will be different and this people will decide to step beyond the edge of the promise and into the work of making the promise a reality. Because it will take work to face down those powerful persons, structures, systems, and patterns that keep our country from reaching its true potential. Powerful interests like the way things are now and they will resist change.
What we need to do right now is take a period of time, a space of time, a Sabbath time to pause in the midst of celebration. We need time to sit down and reflect on the work ahead and realize that we need help if we are to face down the powers that oppose that work. This is a good time between now and the swearing in of the new president to renew our relationship with God who is our Creator. In renewing that relationship we will renew our courage and our strength for the work ahead.
As Christians we sometimes forget to honor the spirit of Sabbath. We forget to take time to pause each week to remember who God is and who we are in God, and to remember that God is on our side. I think it is a shame that we let go of this ancient Jewish practice. We need to take time to remember that God is “Abba,” a loving parent who embraces us with unconditional love. We also need to remember who we are in God as the adult children called to be free. We were not created to service the “Economy.” We were not created to be “Consumers” either.
Christianity has a mission. It is not an end in itself. In fact, Jesus didn’t intend to establish a new religion. He came to call us to a way of life and to be partners with God in creating the Beloved Community — God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
Any government that moves us in the right direction is to be supported and praised. This is why we care about politics and work with governments to overturn unjust and harmful structures and systems. So, here we are again on the edge of opportunity. Let us renew our strength and our courage for the work ahead. Let’s see how close we can get to getting things done this time.
But first, my beloved ones, take time to pause, reflect, and renew your relationship with God, and don’t be afraid of “giants.”