Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin’
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls…
In 1964, native son Bob Dylan wrote the classic hit “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” Penned at the height of the civil rights movement, the lyrics confront the listener and give off a get-with-the-program vibe reminding us that change often comes whether we’re ready or not. The song’s everlasting nature transcends decades and movements and could just as easily describe America today as it does the America of the 1960s. While each generation could credibly claim they witnessed the greatest changes to American life, the year 2020 feels uniquely qualified to take the cake.
In just the last nine months, we have been devastated by the coronavirus, which in Minnesota shows no signs of letting up anytime soon; witnessed the brutal murder of yet another Black man at the hands of the police, George Floyd; endured one of the most excruciating presidential campaigns in modern history; and realized that the advances in racial equity some thought we had achieved in the ‘50s and ‘60s were nothing more than superficial fixes to a system that continues to deny Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples full participation in society.
When I was asked to write this blog post offering a reflection on the election and where we go from here, I was wary—I don’t exactly hide the fact that I personally think Donald Trump is unfit for office. But, the longer I spent thinking over how I would accomplish the seemingly impossible, it became clear that I needn’t look any further than one of our our own. In response to disparaging comments made by President Trump toward immigrants, ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton remarked that,
“We should be fostering a world where each of us sees every person—regardless of race, origin, ethnicity, gender, or economic status—in the image of God and, therefore, worthy of dignity and respect. In working for a healed, reconciled and just world, we all should faithfully strive to participate in God’s reconciling work, which prioritizes disenfranchised, vulnerable and displaced people in our communities and the world, bearing witness—each of us—to the love of God in Jesus Christ.”
Regardless of political party, we should be placing our trust first in God and then in leaders who, at an absolute minimum, treat others with a basic dignity that we deserve.
At the time I’m writing this, we don’t yet know who our president will be for the next four years, but I have hope. It feels like the times they are a-changin’. I’m hopeful that good will prevail; that we will eradicate the disease that is systemic racism; that we will acknowledge our failure to honor the rights of the Indigenous; that we will live out God’s word through our actions; that we will treat all Americans with the compassion that has so often been denied the “least of us;” and that we will continue to carry out our values in ways that directly benefit our community.
For me and my husband Nate, things are going to look a little different too. He has had the good fortune of being offered a dream job and we are following it down to sunny California. We will be moving later in November and I will be stepping down as Council President at the end of the month. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this congregation these past 15+ years as a member, leader, council member, and now president for two terms. I will cherish the relationships I have built here, and I will miss working with all of you creating a church that is more inviting, inclusive, and inspiring than ever before. I am confident that the work we have done together will continue to unfold and that our best days are ahead. Thank you for everything you have done for me and my family and I look forward to joining you again in community when I visit home.
Heavenly Father, please watch over us as we elect our leaders. Give us the strength to carry out your will and to continue our journey to the beloved community. We pray for our country and ask that you guide us to a future that is more equitable and just and treats all people with the dignity they deserve. Amen.