Building Bridges, Not Walls

This past weekend, I was consecrated as a deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It was a wonderful day, full of celebrating the work of the Holy Spirit. I was excited to write all about it and share my joy this week here on the blog. That will have to come in a later post. Because today, I am about as a joyless as I have ever been.

I have been raised to believe in the power of communities to come together.

I have been raised to believe in the power of people working together, so that all might do well and have an equal opportunity regardless of ethnicity, skin color, religious belief, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, relationship status, and any other forms of identity and experience.

I believe in the importance of working for the common good.

I believe in building bridges, not walls. 

Build bridges, not walls.
Build bridges, not walls.

That’s why today is so sad. It is so hard. There is no way to find joy in knowing that my country, has voted for someone who openly ran on a platform of division and building walls between people and communities, not bridges. My country has voted for a man who created and fed off an irrational  sense of fear of the other.

My country has voted for a man who claims to be a Christian, and whom many Christians believe to be one. But there is no way to square his platform with my understanding of the Christian faith. For, if you open up the gospels, one can easily see that where ever society creates walls and tries to separate communities, Jesus shows up on the margins or the other side of the wall in relationship with the other, the outsider, the Samaritan woman at the well, the leper long since forgotten with sores, the tax collector Zacchaeus, and many more.

I am sad today, because if the person who has just become president-elect makes good on his campaign platform rhetoric, communities will be broken, relationships will be torn apart, rights will be stripped away, and many people at the margins of society may rightfully be scared to wake up in the morning.

I have no joy in writing this.

But I also know this, I believe in a God who shows up and is always present.

I believe in a God who calls us all through the waters of baptism to lives of service, and vocations for the sake of the world and our neighbor. Through the water and the word, we make promises:

  • to live among God’s faithful people,
  • to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
  • to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
  • to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
  • and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

And it is because of this, that we cannot hide. It is because of this that we cannot back away in despair. Today is a sad day, perhaps even a terrifying one. But it is also a day where we are called to be the church just like every other day, but perhaps even more importantly now.

Many are legitimately afraid of being pushed aside on the other side of a wall. I will play no part in building any wall. And I invite you to join me.

Join me by building bridges and connections. Join me, by choosing kindness and love over fear and suspicion. Join me, in talking to the person you meet on the side of the street or inside the grocery store. Join me, in sharing how your faith compels you to be a servant leader to your neighbor.

Martin Luther famously wrote, “A Christian is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to all.” The paradox Luther points to is that we are called and created to be free, but also servants to one another. This is leadership, and speaks to how we are created and called to be in relationship and community. So this is what I choose to do, but more importantly, feel called to do today, and all the days after.

We have work to do. It’s God’s work. The work of God’s kingdom breaking in. The work of showing love, peace, and justice for all people and all creation. The work of finding common ground and peace in the midst of great divisiveness.

I pray for President Elect Trump. I pray that God’s wisdom fills him, and that he turns out to be a good leader who works to build bridges and not walls.

No matter how the days and years ahead turn out, I promise to be one who builds bridges and works to promote the dignity of all people, my neighbors, and fellow Children of God. I promise to be one who resists any attacks on the vulnerable, marginalized, and the oppressed. (And I invite you to join that promise by signing this petition.) I promise to be an ally, even if that means putting  my own life and work at risk, because if one member of the Body of Christ is threatened, we are all threatened.

Please join me in this work. This is not something that can be done alone, but rather in community, with a God who calls us together, sustains us, fills us with the Holy Spirit, and reminds us that each and everyone is loved by God, simply because they are one of God’s children.

No matter who you voted for, I want to build bridges with you. I hope you want to build bridges with me, and I trust that with God, this is still possible. Thanks be to God for the hope we know through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and the peace which sustains us especially on days like this.

An important reminder today and every day.

Image Credit: Build Bridges Not Walls, Light Shines in the Darkness

2 thoughts on “Building Bridges, Not Walls

  1. I questioned at first what God was doing by allowing the results of this election. I know God can use anything for good so after much thought and conversation a couple things came to mind. One, hopefully, as you stated, will bring people together, working for those things we believe in such as building bridges and helping those in need that are marginalized or shut out. A second thought is, that as people may see some of the things they believe in are being challenged perhaps they will be drawn back to church, seeking the comfort and peace that only God can give. This will be a growth in the body of Christ instead of decades of decline. Then again, God may have an entirely different plan which will be revealed in His/Her time.
    Thank you Timothy, very wonderful writing as usual.

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