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A day after the election reflection

11.9. 2016 Posted By: Hannah Heinzekehr 1,611 read

Hannah Heinzekehr is the Executive Director of The Mennonite, Inc.

“Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

St. Teresa of Avila

We woke up this morning with a new president-elect. Donald Trump will assume his role as President of the United States in January.

One does not need to look at much data or dig too deeply in order to see that our country—and likely our church—was deeply divided about our hoped-for outcomes today. Today some people are celebrating and others are mourning.

As Christians, we know that our ultimate hope does not lie with political powers or rulers.

As J. Denny Weaver, emeritus professor of religion at Bluffton (Ohio) University, wrote in our cover story for October, “[I] remind myself that even though the presidential candidates are running for [the role of] ‘not-Christ,’ the ultimate outcome of history is with the reign of God. The reign of God endures, even as presidents and empires pass away.”

We also know that the way we live in the world matters.

As 16th-century Anabaptist, Hans Denck, said, “No one can truly know Christ unless they follow him in life.” We can look to the biblical example of Jesus caring deeply for all people, especially those who were outside the natural systems and circles of care that were already naturally in place: for women, for racial/ethnic minorities, for children, for differently-abled and mentally ill people, for Gentiles and the list could go on and on. Jesus found ways to reach out to his neighbor—the person next to him—no matter who they were.

And the church’s call has been to serve as the hands and feet of Christ on earth, equipped by the Holy Spirit. Mennonite Church USA has paraphrased this call with our Vision: Healing and Hope statement, which says, “God calls us to be followers of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, to grow as communities of grace, joy and peace so that God’s healing and hope flow through us and to the world.”

The call to the church does not change with the results of this presidential election, but this election season has presented us with new opportunities to really live into this calling.

So we’re going to have to find ways to talk to each other about the ways we see the world. We’re going to have to listen. We’re going to have to begin to see difference as a gift. We’re going to have to get comfortable living with the tension that comes with disagreement and living in a unity in Christ that is complex.

And then, especially for those of who benefit from the power and privilege of being white, we’re going to have to find ways to work together to serve as Christ’s hands and feet to those in need of support and accompaniment.

We’ll need to work together:
  • To welcome and support the refugee and the immigrant, many of whom have lived through unspeakable horrors already.
  • To resist violence and recommit ourselves to the Gospel of peace.
  • To care for all babies and children, all beloved by God and many of them vulnerable, facing families struggling to make ends meet, find affordable health care and sufficient housing and community support as they parent.
  • To live into our denomination’s commitment to undoing oppression. To making our communities, our churches and our country safe spaces for people no matter their race, gender, marriage status, class, sexual orientation, rural/urban location, age or abilities. To talk about privilege.
  • To make our churches and communities places that are accessible to and supportive of people living with mental illness.
  • To support survivors of sexual abuse and to support policies—in our church and our country—that work hard to prevent and condemn sexual violence.
  • To provide mutual aid and care for those facing joblessness and struggling to make ends meet.
  • To care for all of God’s good creation, hills and vales, rocks and trees, mountains and seas.
  • To affirm the goodness and the image of God present in all our neighbors, including those from different faith traditions. To counteract narratives of hatred and rejection that thrive on fear.
  • To pray and to worship together. To affirm the ways we are connected to others all around the world. We belong to one another. Our futures are bound up together.
This list could go on. What would you add?

As Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary professor, Janna Hunter Bowman, recently wrote, “We are not reliant on the winds of electoral politics to be a counter-cultural community of love and resistance.”

When reflecting on the life of civil rights leader and historian Vincent Harding, who was, at one time, a leader in the Mennonite church, Joanna Shenk wrote that, in his later years, Harding would open teaching sessions with groups by teaching them to sing this song, to the tune of the old slave spiritual, “Jacob’s ladder,” “We are building up a new world … Builders must be strong. Courage, sisters, don’t get weary. Courage, brothers, don’t get weary. Courage, people, don’t get weary, though the way be long.”

Courage, don’t get weary. The call to the church does not change, but the opportunities that present themselves might. We know the work to which we are called.

“And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:40).

 

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