There's no use pretending it's business as usual. The level of fear, anger, confusion and discord in our country right now is something I have never seen. The inauguration of a new President today has caused so much distress for so many people, it is causing me distress. And even my church. The Epsicopal Church is in no small amount of controversy about the choir of the National Cathedral singing at the Inauguration, and the choice of preacher for the private prayer service held at St John's Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House.
As I follow the conversations, it seems that Christians are divided between loving our neighbor as ourselves, seeing the face of Christ in every other person no matter how much we may disagree; and standing against intolerance, injustice, and sin when we see and perceive it. These two ways of following Jesus are causing conflicting feelings and decisions among many thoughtful, faithful people I know.
What is the answer when we disagree so strongly about what is right, what is just, what is good in our common life? It would seem a simple question of what Jesus would do, or have us do, in whatever situation we find ourselves in.
But it has never been easy, as far as I can tell. In the Gospels, people frequently ask Jesus to mediate their disputes and justify their decisions, only to have him confound them with questions: 'which of these was a neighbor?' 'What did Moses teach you?' 'Who do you say that I am?'
Jesus seems light on answers, actually, and heavy on asking us to consider where love might be in any situation, often upending our expectations in the process.
That's the thing, I think, especially when things are not going as planned. Religion, like government, gives structure to our life together, but it is not the sum total of it. I say this as a deeply religious person. It seems like Jesus is always calling us beyond whatever it is that we are sure is true, and assuring us that life following him will not be easy, but it will be life.
I don't know what the answers are, in general and especially on this day in history. I am, frankly, as uneasy as most are about what these changes will bring. But I do know the question: where is love in all of this? Where is love beyond what makes me comfortable or certain?
I don't know what is right, but I know what is true: the last word is always love.