Yesterday was a swirl of emotions. No matter which side you sit on, its hard not to recognize that our nation is deeply divided. And no matter where the outcome could have landed, that divide still would have been there.
So we ask ourselves: where is God in the midst of this?
I had the honor and misfortune of having to preach yesterday morning in class. And of course, I made the mistake of waiting until the last minute to complete my sermon. I had written half and then Tuesday night happened and, well, I couldn’t really find any good words to finish it. Nothing I wrote about felt real enough for the day ahead. It was a struggle to say the least.
In re-examining the assigned text, I had a great opportunity that I missed. Thankfully, it was my week to write a blog post. So here is a taste of what I wish I’d said.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Originally, I thought I was like Jesus in this story. Needing a break. Retreating in the darkness. Finding a deserted place. Praying. But I’m not. I wish I was that strong but this morning, I’m not. I wish I was that confident this morning, I’m not. No, no. This morning I am Simon. Afraid. Worried. Hunting.
Simon woke up at his mother-in-law’s house that morning, relishing in the events of yesterday. Jesus had conducted so many healings and exorcised so many demons. The people were thankful and indeed, his mother-in-law’s life may have even been spared. The Son of God was among them and if today was anything like yesterday, we were in for a great day of restoring people to society.
But wait. Where’s Jesus? I imagine Simon darting in and out of rooms, searching. When it became apparent that he was not in the house, he called on the troops to begin a search. It was dark but they too went off into the wilderness to hunt anyways. All the while, fear started to set in. Where is Jesus? Maybe yesterday was too much for him? Maybe he left us? Maybe. Maybe.
I woke up like that this morning too. The sun was shining and for a moment, the events of last night’s election were not on the top of my mind. Slowly as my brain began to wake up, the memories started flooding. As the fear starts to set in, I too begin to hunt. Where is Jesus? Maybe yesterday was too much for him? Maybe he left us? Maybe. Maybe.
When Simon encounters Jesus, he’s likely exasperated but relieved. He says the first thing that comes to his mind: “Everyone is searching for you.” I imagine Simon to be out of breath, barely able to find the words to describe the situation, openly acknowledging the fear and doubt he is feeling. Everyone is searching for you. Where have you been? We thought you left us.
And we wonder: how is Jesus going to respond?
Jesus doesn’t chastise Simon. There is no speech about faith or parable about doubt. Jesus recognizes that times are difficult and overwhelming. He too, retreated to the wilderness in the darkness to seek out the spiritual support of God through prayer. But Jesus realizes that despite how hard things are, and how overwhelming they may seem, the mission must move forward. The answer is this: we must continue on to proclaim the message.
And in our times of despair, we too can lean on this mission. We too, have been called to go out and proclaim the message. The message that God is with us, no matter the circumstances. The message that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, even when they don’t acknowledge our love back. On a day like today, that last part can be hard. But it’s the only way forward. We must respond in love.
So, friends, I urge you to go out of into the world in faith and love, knowing that Jesus is with you. While taking time to lament/mourn/doubt/fear is important, we must find an appropriate time to move past all that and live into action. That is our calling as Christians and we must keep the faith that God is in charge. I leave you today with this simple benediction from the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer:
Go forth into the world in peace
Be of good courage
Hold fast to that which is good
Render to no person evil for evil
Strengthen the faint-hearted
Support the weak
Heal the afflicted
Honor all people
Love and serve the Lord
Rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit