Last week our Hosanna Choir presented their annual musical. This year Michele selected a play called "Not Your Average Joe," which is a retelling of Joseph's Egypt adventures set in the 50's at a diner and a beach. This was an amazing production from beginning to end, including the poster contest, trivia, table decorations, set, acting, music. Everything was just awesome. It was a real joy to be a part of it.
Just in case you need a refresher, Joe (Joseph) was the favorite son of Papa Jake (Jacob)--and he knew it. He had dreams of grandeur in which the stars themselves bowed down to him. This annoyed his brothers, as did Papa Jake's gift of his leather coat (standing in for the coat of many colors, of course). So they got rid of him (by sending him to Pharaoh's point, which is a beach in the play, maybe not unlike the desert sands of the Bible). In exile, Joe became powerful and ultimately saved the region--including the very family that has sold him into slavery--from famine.
My role for the production was to take the music as printed and adapt it for our little pit band (which included Helen Byars on piano, Daniel Smith on saxophone, and Lance Waller on guitar). I spent a lot of time with the lyrics to the songs as I listened to the CD tracks, read them from the printed page, and typed them into my new scores.
I was not prepared for how deeply those lyrics would resonate with me, and I was not prepared for how powerful those lyrics would become when the performance came the day after a historic election.
Specifically, I actually choked up a little the night I typed these words:
"Some days are always sunny, and those days feel just like summer,
when everything is easy and the weather's fine.
Some day are harder than others, and those days sometimes wonder
if it ends this way are we gonna be alright."
We know God works all things together,
and our God is faithful forever.
When something was meant to hurt, our God can turn it to good.
Even when things are as bad as they seem we know God works in all things."
While I'd grant fully that there are many people happy about the results of the election, for a big segment of the world's population, things seem pretty bad right now. And even some who voted in favor of the outcome would probably acknowledge that our country and indeed our world are deeply divided.
Racism is a thing. Misogyny is a thing. Antisemitism is a thing. These things are all as bad as they seem. They are meant to hurt. They are beyond redemption. They are a profound challenge to a statement of faith that claims God works in all things.
Regardless of your political persuasion, this will always be remembered as a dark time in our history. There are demonstrations and protests. There are hate crimes and mass shootings. All this has me wondering what good could possibly come from this? How could this be used for good? Racism, misogyny, and hate are not the things of God, nor are they the will of God. God has not wished these things on us. Still, God can work in and through us despite them.
Enter my third rule for daily living: it takes time. I don't know how much time it takes (I wish I did). If we are faithful to our gospel call. If we live out of love first, one day we will look back on this moment and remember it as the time the conversation began. One way or another, we as individuals and as a country were forced to consider questions of race and gender and orientation. We could no longer pretend they don't exist because they were in front of us daily.
Faithful conversation leads to understanding. Understanding leads to respect. Respect leads to love, and love is ultimately what will save us from this nightmare. Make no mistake here. If we choose to embrace our humanity instead of the Divine Love within, we can spiral out of control and end our own existence on this earth. That has always been a possibility, it remains so, and even when we are exploring the galaxy as part of the United Federation of Planets, it will remain so.
Nevertheless, if we embrace our inborn divinity, we are fully capable of ending this cycle of hate. The only way we will do that is through love. Not grand, sweeping love of all people everywhere. We aren't really capable of that. Love shared one person at a time. Individual to individual. Me to you. You to another. That is our call.