"America first. America first."
As I was listening yesterday, the words made my stomach turn.
I'm sorry if that offends you. I really am.
There's a part of me that gets it. Other countries are looking out for their interests; we should be looking out for ours. Right? I mean, if we don't, who will?
Across the world a long time ago
We're not the only ones. We never have been.
I lived in South Korea during the Asian economic collapse. IMF Era, they called it.
There was a big push to buy Korean.
At the little Presbyterian church I attended, the pastor encouraged us to boycott Titanic, not because of the sex, like my pastor back home might have, but because of all the money that would leave the country — going straight to the U.S. A bit awkward for me, the lone non-Korean in the crowd.
It didn't work, of course. Titanic was packed at every showing.
But the message of protectionism flourished.
The Country & the Gospel
Using the pulpit to promote nationalism isn't new, either.
What's frustrating to me is how many Christians don't question this. I read so many comments yesterday from Christians excited to hear the new president talk about God.
That scares me. A lot.
See, Jesus rejected every offer of power. The church has historically abused power every time it gets some.
It flourishes when it's persecuted, not when it's in charge. (Not that I'm asking God for persecution; I'm not that brave.)
No Other Rock
So last night, after sometimes resisting and sometimes giving in to my natural inclination to hide my fear with snark and quoting other people's clever remarks, I went to the lectionary.
And I found Isaiah 44:8.
It's an amazing reminder of who's in charge. It's a call to rely on God, the only Rock.
If we're relying on Donald Trump to save us, we're going to be sorely disappointed.
That's not just true of him. We can't rely on Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein or Ron Paul or whoever your favorite politician is.
They can't save us. They can't save the country.
Don't be scared
I know lots of people who are scared right now, even though it's for different reasons.
My friends and family who love Donald Trump are naturally afraid of the rioting that is tearing apart our cities, and they're afraid of terrorists and losing their jobs and the rejection of values they've held sacred their whole lives.
My friends and (less) family who were disillusioned by this election are afraid for where our country is going. They're afraid we're tossing aside the civil rights that minorities, women, and the LGBT community have worked so hard to gain.
The common thread? We're all afraid.
Isaiah (whether you think there were two writers or just one) knew something about fear. Ten of the 12 tribes of Israel had been carted off by the extremely brutal Assyrians. The other two were left in conflict, and they would eventually be conquered by Babylon.
It's in this context that God tells the people not to be afraid because he's the only strong rock.
Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, please pray for our country and its leaders. They need it. We all need it.
Stand up for justice where it finds you.
If you feel like marching, march. If writing letters or calling Congress is your bag, do that.
But please do something. Do it with love and grace, with the courage that God is your Rock.
God, our Rock, help us to trust you. Please guide our new president, Donald Trump. Send prophets who will speak truth to the powers that be in Washington, D.C., on both sides of the aisles of Congress, among the lobbyists and corporate interests who seek power without thought for the poor, the oppressed, the fatherless, and the widow. Give us the courage to work for justice and the eyes to find ways to do so. Help us to raise our children to trust you, and to put you first. We thank you for our country and the freedoms we have. Help us to use those freedoms to speak the truth in love, now and always. Amen.