The only way I can cope with this devastating election is to rely on my faith. Ironically, on this day of despair, Advent began (for me). I have taken on the task of writing a new Christmas play for the children and musicians at St. Paul UMC Grant Park. I enjoy adding humor and cuteness to the story we tell each year of the birth of Jesus. Advent is the time of preparation for Christmas, and I am beginning to prepare.
But, light and humor are not where my mind dwells this November. Even before last night, the vitriol of this election swirled with my thoughts of retelling the nativity. In this process, I have been struck over and over again by the darkness we experience each Advent. The nights are longer, the cold keeps us indoors, and each night I see someone homeless wandering the streets while I ride in the comfort of heated seats.
I keep coming back to the words of Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness . . .” “The people who walked in darkness . . . “ “The People who walked in darkness . . .” The Scripture does not stop there, but my mind is stuck in that darkness.
How could we be filled with such hate? How can we choose a bully to be our leader? How do I answer my daughter when she asks (as she did last night), are we going to be ok? What will happen to my clients with disabilities who have left the isolation of institutions and entered into new homes and new jobs because of the work of the Obama Administration? How can I continue to hope when I imagine the dismantling of the Americans with Disabilities Act, healthcare and insurance for those who desperately need it, and how can we pull back civil rights for those who have previously and repeatedly been marginalized?
I am not sure of the answers to these questions, but I find reassurance in my faith. I find reassurance because my faith is one that recognizes and exists within reality. Reality, Scripture reminds us, includes suffering. Reality includes pain, disappointment, and hate. Reality includes hopelessness, war, deceit, and indifference.
That is the reality that existed at the incarnation. The people walked in darkness. They walked in darkness, but the Scripture says, they saw a great light. The people were in despair and God’s son came among them. He did not come flying in on a helicopter to give a speech to a raucous crowd and then retire to the emptiness of golden chairs in a Manhattan high rise. He came as a baby born with nothing to a poor couple who had no place to sleep but a barn. The family would soon run off to Egypt as refugees because an evil king feared a threat to his power. God’s son came to experience the suffering and hopelessness of the people who walked in darkness. And because of him, they saw a great light.
And so once again this Christmas, I won’t have many answers about the election, but I will work to help our children recount the story of how “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”