What Now?

What now? The results of Tuesday’s election surprised all the progressive pundits and liberal pollsters. Not all of us, but most of us were stunned, unprepared and fearful about what may be in store. How could so many of us been so wrong?

I was prepared to celebrate the first female US President and move into faithful but critical support of a new administration that would need pushing toward the progressive. I was not ready for “this.”

Some of us gathered for Vespers in Eliot Chapel Tuesday evening. We were reminded of difficult times in our national past that we have survived. George Washington’s leadership at the founding of the nation and his distrust of political parties. Lincoln’s leadership during the Civil War. Johnson’s leadership in response to the Civil Rights movement. Susan B. Anthony and women’s suffrage. Leadership matters.

How will a President Trump with a Republican Congress lead? Will we build a wall? Dismantle NATO? Repeal the Affordable Care Act? Cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy? Will, before long, conservative jurists form a clear majority on the Supreme Court? Will our worst fears come true?

Or will some yet unclear balance of power constrain such a rush toward an imagined past? Did the great wisdom of the framers of our representative democracy build in checks and balances sufficient to prevent my own worst fears from coming to pass?

What role will our voices and the voice of our faith community play in the coming months and years? The divisions within the American people seem so sharp and deeply drawn. Those difference have powerful roots in the American story…they are not new. But will we live as two Americas? Must we give up hope for a vision in which “we the people” is not an oxymoron?

At the heart of our liberal religious tradition is the rejection of a world of the saved and the damned. A faith community that claims the name “Universalist” has to search for connections and common ground. But so many old assumptions manifestly do not apply. We will need to uncover new connections and see those connections in new ways.

You have heard me quote these words from Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed: “The goal of the religious community is to unveil the bonds that unite each to all.”

Like many of you, I know that I am still in shock. But I can sense that shock beginning to recede. I find myself so glad that our community exists and that it is a vibrant voice for both love and justice.

Tom Disrud and I will be sharing the pulpit on Sunday, each of us, in our own way, speaking to the uncertainty and fear in many of our hearts…and the hope we can find together.