Rev. Dr. Steven Yagerman
All of us have been on pins and needles as we have participated in the great American exercise in democracy. What has become clear is that we live in a country that is, once again, deeply divided.
How hard it is to understand people who see the world so differently than we see it. In our modern world it is easy to be caught up in an information loop, meaning we are fed information that tends to agree with what we already believe and filter out information with which we disagree.
Frequently we have this experience of alienation with other countries, religious or ethnic groups. But within our own melting-pot of a country, it seems that we have neighbors, relatives and old friends who completely disagree with us and challenge our ability to conduct normal relations.
We read in Matthew 12:25 “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln quoted this verse before he was elected president, in reference to the country being divided between slave states and non-slave states. We know how violently that worked out.
The question for the disciple of Jesus is not, how to get along, but rather, how can we be a force for reconciliation? And of course the means are important, we must find a way that peacefully respects the dignity of every human being with justice and compassion.
Our prayer is that we can first find a non-violent core within ourselves. As we find this place of peace and equanimity, we can seek to see through the rhetoric that divides us and courageously discover the sacred core that unites us. This is root of peacemaking.
This peacemaking is not easy. It is all too easy to be sucked into various controversies. This is what happened when Jesus was asked if it was permissible to pay taxes to the empire. We need to remember that we have a deeper calling. This is not an excuse to abdicate civil responsibility, but is a call to constantly look for the divine presence within the humanity of every human being. As Christ ennobles us, so we should deepen and lift the discourse so that this house can be reconciled. May we come to a place where all people are able to participate in the high ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that allows us to continue this experiment in democracy.