Now that the election is over, we can all ponder where we are and what is next. Hillary Clinton was the flawed Democrat who garnered more votes than any other candidate, but she was not elected President. The flawed Republican candidate who garnered the second highest number of votes but carried the Electoral College is Donald J. Trump, who will thus become the next President of the United States. Our country appears to be as evenly divided as its electorate. More states favored the man who won, but more actual voters favored the woman who lost. Looking for guidance to bring us together, one could do worse than to reread Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, which tells us that “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance….” Which of these best characterizes our election will only be known as time goes on.
The governance of the Episcopal Church is intentionally structured on a model similar to our country, and the head of our Church is the Presiding Bishop, presently The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry. Bishop Curry uploaded a video on election night, reassuring those of us in his flock and providing thoughts to guide our future. In it, he recited in dramatic fashion the Pledge of Allegiance; I am sure all of our readers are familiar with it and so I won’t repeat it here. But he also recited the third stanza of the famous hymn by James Weldon Johnson, entitled “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” That hymn was written as a poem in 1899 and became the anthem of the Civil Rights movement a half century later. It is still honored and sung by many, white and black together, on occasions appropriate to its call to action. I cannot do better than to close as Presiding Bishop Curry did, with its third and final stanza.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by thy might, Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee;
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee,
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, May we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.
The words of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” are applicable this year to each one of us as we face our future together, Americans of every race and ethnicity, old and young, of every religion or none at all, and of every gender and gender preference, applicable to every natural born citizen and every new immigrant seeking a home in this great land. Thomas Jefferson taught us that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” And Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us that indeed, “We shall overcome, some day.” May God Bless America.