But of course the big event this weekend is not our parish meeting. The big event this weekend is not even the Patriots game.
On Friday, we inaugurated Donald Trump as our forty-fifth president. That matters for us as citizens for all kinds of reasons. But as members of Saint David’s, that matters because we are called to be God’s people in our world today. We are called to offer the good news that our world needs to hear.
As best I can tell, most Americans, whether or not we supported candidate Trump, are anxious about the state of our nation, and part of our anxiety comes from our sense that we are a badly divided people. It is difficult to see how we can move forward, given the divisions in our nation.
Here at Saint David’s, several of us gathered on Inauguration Day to pray for our nation, to pray that God will guide all of us.
My own prayer is that all Americans will remember that we are one people, that we all seek the common good, that much more unites us than divides us, that we need to work together.
My prayer is that we hold to those ideals on which our nation was founded: the liberty and equality of all people.
If President Trump violates our American ideals, my prayer is that Republicans will lead the way in opposing the administration. If President Trump upholds our American ideals, my prayer is that Democrats will lead the way in supporting the administration. My prayer is that we will not say “I belong to the Democrats” or “I believe to the Republicans,” that we will say instead, “I belong to America.”
My prayer is naïve.
My prayer would be hopelessly naïve if my faith and my hope were just in American institutions, or in the virtue and wisdom of the American people, or in the world as we know it. But my hope is in God, the God we know in Jesus Christ, the God who brings life out of death, the God who is with us even now.
We all know the problems our country faces. And prayer is powerful. And God works miracles. And God can change the human heart. As Christians, we believe that God will have the last word, that God’s will will be done in the end, that life and love win in the end.
And so we pray. And we keep praying. And the harder it is for us to see a way forward on our own, the more we pray. We pray for God’s will. We pray for God’s kingdom.
Our calling as Christian people is NOT to settle for what seems possible in our world. Our calling as Christian people is to embrace God’s vision and to proclaim God’s vision and to act on God’s vision.
Especially in anxious times, we need to remember who is really in charge. Presidents come and go. Political parties come and go. Nations come and go. And through it all, God endures.
That is why we come together to worship week after week. We worship the one who called Peter and Andrew, James and John so long ago. We worship the one who calls us. We worship the God who can make a way out of no way.
The question for us is, what is God is calling us to do in this moment.
I believe that God is calling us—Christians in general, but I mean specifically us here at Saint David’s—I believe that God is calling us to speak a word on behalf of unity, the unity of Christian people, and the unity of our nation.
And the fact is, Christians have centuries of experience with divisions and unity. We can see that in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
The Christian Church in Corinth in the first century had lots of specific problems, and Paul writes at length about many of them in the letter. We will hear about them in the weeks to come.
But Paul does not want his people to get bogged down in the details, in all the particulars about which they were fighting. So Paul makes his main appeal right up front, in our reading for this morning.
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”
Unity, not division. The same mind. The same purpose.
What did unity look like in ancient Corinth? Well, it did NOT mean that they had exactly the same gifts or exactly the same roles to play. It did NOT mean that they would think alike in all things. That is very clear.
But the unity Paul was talking about was real.
Paul wanted them to have the same mind, that is, “the mind of Christ” (2:16). Paul wanted them to have the same purpose—that is, to follow Christ, to do Christ’s will, to be Christ’s hands and hearts in the world.
If the Corinthian Christians could have the mind of Christ and if they could keep focused on following Christ, the divisions among them would work themselves out. They would, of course, often differ on the details, which matter. But as long as they had the mind of Christ, as long as they concentrated on following Christ, the differences among them would act as a creative tension as they worked together to discern God’s call and to answer God’s call.
Exactly the same is true of us today.
Thankfully, here at Saint David’s we are not nearly so divided as were the Christians at Corinth. It would be too much to say that we always have the mind of Christ or that we are always focused on following Christ. But we try. And on balance we do pretty well.
We disagree sometimes. We occasionally irritate each other. We occasionally act out.
But still we come together around a common altar. Together we listen to the word of God. Together we are fed with the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood. We pray together. We work and play together.
We stick together even though we differ about politics, and about priorities, and about football teams. (Remember, I am an Atlanta fan!).
The unity that we experience, imperfect though it is, is a really wonderful gift, and we should thank God for it.
And we should do whatever we can to deepen our unity by rooting ourselves more and more firmly in the mind of Christ, by focusing more and more intently on following Christ.
We root ourselves in Christ because we are called to grow in the knowledge and the love of God. We celebrate our unity because that is what our bitterly divided nation and world needs to see from us.
And so, on this annual meeting day in this inauguration weekend, I thank God for the gift of Christian unity. I pray that God will help us grow together in him. And I pray that God will help us to share the good news that unity in love is possible for people who do not always agree.
And I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who makes all things possible. Amen.