November 13, 2016: “Shaken”

Posted on : Nov 10th, 2016 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

To say the least, most of us are shaken, shaken to the core, as we contemplate our future with Donald Trump as President. Wednesday evening it was reported that there were major protests in cities all across America, including Los Angeles. As occasionally happens in times of civil unrest, the 101 was shut down by protestors.   Whenever the Hollywood Freeway is shut down by protestors, we know something major is happening. Indeed, something major is happening.

Two days after the election I find myself in as much disbelief as the disciples who went to the tomb on Easter morning. What the heck just happened? Almost all progressives are going through the stages of grief. A friend sent me these thoughts from his minister:

All the stages of grief are stampeding through my veins at once – denial and isolation, anger; bargaining, and depression. All the stages, except one – acceptance. Yes, it happened. Against all predictions and the popular vote, it happened. Against hope, it happened. But I do not need to accept it. I have no intention of accepting it. (Rev. Joan Montagnes)

Joan is right there with #NotMyPresident and the protestor’s chant: “No Trump. No KKK, No Fascist USA.” From the emails I am receiving, most of us feel the same. But Joan goes on to offer another very insightful comment as to why she won’t accept this:

This is not a time to allow the devastating tide and time of defeat to crash over us. This is no time to lie passively battered and broken….This is a moment in history when we need to be emboldened by our core values. We need never accept defeat. Too much is at stake. Rather as faithful citizens we shall participate in a peaceful transfer of power. At the same time, we shall double down in calling upon our core values and in our efforts to build the age of mutual respect for which we yearn. This is the task history has set before us.

Grieve, but do not give up. History has set challenges before us in the past – monumental challenges – and we have helped bend the arc of history toward justice.

Anthony B. Robinson, one of our UCC “God Is Still Speaking Writers” wrote these words about being “Shaken.”

There are lots of experiences or events that can shake us up, some quite badly. Where I live we get earthquakes every now and again. It’s quite a strange, and very disorienting, feeling when truly everything is shaking.

All sorts of things can shake us up—the death of spouse or partner, or of a dear friend or beloved leader. The unexpected loss of a job can be deeply shaking, as can news that we, or someone we love, is critically ill. A disappointment of our hopes can shake us.

Historic events, too—the 9/11 attacks or Hurricane Katrina or a tsunami–can shake us and terrify us.

I once heard an Irish priest say, “God shakes the earth from time to time so that those who are alive at the time may discover what cannot be shaken.” When we are shaken, whether in our personal lives or as a society, we often turn to the church. Almost instinctively, we seek for what cannot be shaken.

While we wish “times of shaking” on no one, it does seem true that when such times come, as they will, they can be something more than only terrifying. They can also be revealing. They reveal to us what truly matters. They reveal what cannot be shaken. And that can be a wonderful thing.

This Sunday, as we have done in other times of national and community crisis, we will allow members to share their feelings, even as we give witness to the Power of the Risen Christ within us to not only bear the pain, but to witness to hope. Clearly, for those of us in the justice-loving community, we have a tough journey ahead. For now, we need to be together, witnessing to the steadfast power of God among us and within us.

Blessings, and see you on Sunday.


PS: I hope you notice in the scripture below how relevant these words are to our current situation. They are, if you will, a letter from the First Century Christian community to the Twenty-First Century Christian community:

2 Corinthians 4: 1, 7-12

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart…

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

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