I had settled on Isaiah 65:17-25 as my preaching text for this Sunday a few weeks ago. It’s offered by the lectionary for this next-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year and it’s a beautiful passage full of hope. And I thought it would be relatively easy to preach after the predicted and expected election result. But the predictions were wrong. The election did not turn out as expected.
It’s suddenly become a lot harder to speak, believe and preach Isaiah’s prediction with conviction. Which is exactly why we must wrestle with it. Because it’s easy to preach and hear hope when you’re feeling hopeful or relieved. It’s a lot harder when you’re feeling stunned, when the overwhelming emotion is disbelief, when you’re terrified. And I make no secret of the fact that I believe voters have made a very bad decision. That does not mean that I intend to vilify our president-elect or those who, in good conscience, honestly believe him to be the better choice. It does mean that, as a person of faith and one tasked with preaching the gospel, my own convictions and trust in these ancient texts will be put to the test.
After this bruising campaign and its results have exposed such great divisions in our national community, is it possible to believe that “Wolf and lamb will graze together” (65:25) any time soon? We are confronted with opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to dig deep. To discover, in this season of discontinuity, the steadfastness of our God. To hold fast to prophesy and parable and promise. To be strengthened, as citizens of the kingdom of God tasked with its revelation, to support policies that are in line with Christ’s inclusive vision and to oppose those that run counter to his prophet-call for justice.
In the days and weeks to come some will grieve, some will celebrate. There will no doubt be words and actions that are unbecoming of a civil society. On both sides some may be tempted to believe that we are no longer bound by codes of Christian conduct and mutual forbearance. In the face of these temptations we might consider that wolves and lambs will graze together not by a snap of the Divine fingers but when wolves and lambs – and every other creature – choose to. We express our belief in Isaiah’s vision by enacting it. We are empowered to enact it by a God whose love for us is stronger than anything that might tear us apart.
Grace and peace,