Today is February 9. It was on this day in 1861 that the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson Davis as their president. Just two months later, the Battle of Fort Sumter would mark the official beginning of the Civil War, a period in our nation's history that accounted for more bloodshed and loss of life than numerous other wars combined.
Persons from both the North and the South were absolutely certain of their cause. It is reported that, at one point during the war, one of Abraham Lincoln's advisors was speaking with the President and expressed gratitude that God was on their side. Lincoln presumably responded, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."
We are living in a time where there is a deep political divide, characterized by strong opinions and emotions from opposing perspectives. Many persons on both sides of the proverbial party aisle are absolutely convinced of their rightness in all matters (and even when they are not, they dare not acknowledge it in the current climate). And yes, some even assert that God is on the side of their cause.
How is the church to respond in such a time as this?
Lincoln's response to his advisor points us in the right direction. We can begin by remembering that we are invited to join God in what God is doing rather than asking God to bless our own perspectives. We need to spend time attending to the Scriptures, particularly the threads that are woven throughout both Old and New Testaments, with special attention to the life and teachings of Jesus. As we do, we may discover that we have a much-needed voice to offer-one that is not tied to a particular party affiliation but instead is based on our allegiance to Christ.
I invite you to begin your own reflection by reading Luke 10:25-37, which will be the text for this Sunday's services.
In the words of Harry E. Fosdick, may God "grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days."
Grace and Peace,