I was driving through our neighborhood last week when I saw competing political candidate signs in one yard. As I approached, I had to chuckle. Inscribed in sharpie above the Trump sign was written – “Husband,” and above the Biden sign was written – “Wife.” That seems to sum it up.
We are a house divided as a nation. As of this writing, the election is still too close to call, and leads in the remaining states are razor-thin. There are indications that certain states will begin the re-count process soon. It seems we will have to live in the in- between space of knowing and not knowing for a few more days.
One of the questions hovering over us as a people is when we know who won, how will we move forward? How will we live together in a divided house? Will we choose to merely not speak on the matter? Will we choose to put out competing signs? Will we agree to disagree?
The spiritual path, I believe, offers us a different way. While this lesson comes to us from the Christian tradition, I believe it will hold true for all of our faiths.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly gathers with his disciples, and they take a boat to the other side of the sea. It is easy to pass over those words and focus more on the miracle that follows them. When we read “and they went to the other side,” we should think of it this way, “Jesus and the disciples got in their car and went to the other side of the tracks, or they went to the other side of a town and to the other side of a new culture, or they went to the other side of an issue or the other side of the voting booth.”
Jesus and the disciples chose to go to the other side when they could have chosen not to bother. Not only do they risk going to the other side, each time they arrive, something miraculous happens —a healing, a revelation of faith, or an experience of grace.
As we walk these days, we will have to find a way to the other side of our divides. My dear friends, we can be divided on who we voted for, but we cannot be divided on how we care for one another. We can be divided in our approach to solving the difficult problems facing our nation, but we cannot be divided on recognizing that we, in fact, face great challenges together.
How we walk these days ahead is important; they will reflect what we most value and will be a manifestation of what we believe. May we be a people who will risk going to the other side so that we might find a new way forward as a people and the healing and grace that awaits us there.
May it be so.
Rev. Matthew Ruffner is Senior Pastor at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. He is husband to Sarah Ruffner and a father of two. You can follow Matthew on Instagram at @thisismatthewruffner; visit PHPC.org to watch the church’s live stream and listen to sermons.