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Pastor Peggy's Post
Election Hangover Cure

November 3, 2004

Why I am not Bummed out today…

Ok, I was a little depressed this morning for about an hour, things didn’t exactly go my way in the election – especially the things I cared the most about – but the depression didn’t last long.

On about the second cup up coffee the sun broke through the fog, and my magnificent Maple tree was still lit up like fire in my front yard. It has rained sideways for two days here in Salem, and when it started I thought, “well, that is the end of the color show”, but somehow those crimson and gold leaves hung on until today. I took it as an omen.

Then I washed my face and put my sneakers on and went to Freedom Friends ministry and oversight committee. And I started to remember a few things.

First, Being in power, is never a good thing for the Body of Christ. Mixing power and faith is always bad for faith. Constantine turned Christian martyrs into Inquisitors by making the Faith legal and eventually mandatory. Our Puritan founders came to this country to escape persecution, established their own state religion and started hanging people right off the bat. Some of those killed were Quakers. In Europe where they have state religions, religious devotion has dropped to all time lows. The right-wing, religious fundamentalists may think that they won yesterday - they may actually have won. But I assure you – it won’t be good for them. The infighting will start, and it will start soon, watch with me.
On the other hand, being out of power – even persecuted – is always good for the faith. I knew an old Quaker missionary who spent years in China. It was a hard gig, so little ground was made. Then Mao came along, chased the missionaries out and declared atheism to be the state religion. No one got in for about twenty years, but when they did they found millions of indigenous Chinese Christians. Faith sometimes grows strongest in bad soil with a toxic wind.

Today I have the good fortune to have been given a Divine commission to build a liberal, loving, inclusive church. Today there are many people here in Salem feeling bummed and alienated and ostracized. I intend to work my tail off giving them a place to feel welcomed and accepted. The conditions couldn’t be better for me.

Second, when it comes to the issue of allowing gay and lesbian full civil and religious rights, I know I am working on the side of Justice and Love. This is never a bad long-term investment. And there is no other ground that I would rather be standing on. Our Quaker ancestors were on the cutting edge of all kinds of Loving Justice issues; abolition, women’s rights, mental health treatment, prison reform, civil rights. Many of them worked their lifetimes to see justice come into flower. Some of them died before they saw it. (Yes, I mean that exactly as I wrote it! – I think they saw it after they died, and see it now) It was a tough road while they worked, but they became heroes. We are working to be the heroes of our great-grandchildren. Let us not let them down!

And I know that the other side thinks that they too are working for love and justice – but this is in our favor. For it is the ground we will eventually win on. Open hatred is the minority, and it is entrenched and hard to beat on the heart level. But most of the people on the other side of this issue are not really hate-filled. And because of that, Love will eventually win.

“Love never fails”- Paul the Apostle.

I know that many are really hurting today. The hope of many young voters has been stung – we must speak up and tell them that they have taken courageous first steps in a life long journey. I know that there are at least 6,000 people in Oregon who just had their most personal precious relationship put to public referendum and rejected. I can only imagine what it would be like to have the validity of my marriage put on the ballot. But we have to stand beside them and tell them that they are not alone, and that the fight is not over. We have to give them places where their relationships are honored and nurtured. There is no law or constitution that can stop us from doing this.

It looks like Peace has taken a blow, but do not be deceived. War and strife is always based in fear and deceit – we can fight these things, our only real enemies. There is always something you can do. You always have a choice. Are you afraid of a draft? Well, we have run an underground railroad before, and we can do it again if we need to. We have gone to jail before, and walked out victorious.

Last, I remembered that there are exactly the same number of peacemakers, and justice builders, and love encouragers in the world today as yesterday. I am one, you are one, there are millions of us, and we are just as talented, and determined and confidant as ever. No election can stop this work, or undo a mite of its produce.

I love this country. I even like it most of the time. I have seen anarchy and chaos in the third world and trust me – this with all its faults, is still a good deal. But I am first a citizen of another country, one that is not bound by time or geography; one that is not affected by fear or greed or ignorance. It is the only country that gets my full allegiance, and the only army I will fight in. It is the Kingdom of Christ, and He is my sovereign and friend, and co-creator. And when I work and fight for His cause, it can only benefit this temporal realm.

So pick yourself up! Shake it off, and let’s get to work. The need is great, the situation is favorable to our cause, and we have nothing to fear.

Truth arrives in funny places. I saw this on the back of a shirt today at Muchas Gracias Drive Through.

“What lies behind us, and what lies before us, is nothing compared to what lies within us”

AMEN – Yours faithfully,
Peggy Senger Parsons
Pastor, Freedom Friends Church

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