I shared the following deeply felt prayer concerns with the Avery UMC congregation this morning. Then we talked about living as people of hope, which we will commit to doing today and every day until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.
A lot has happened in the world since we last met in this space a week ago to worship and pray together. While I am tempted to push these things aside and lead worship as if all is well, this is not the time for that. So allow me a moment to share with you what’s on my heart today.
First, the presidential election. The choice, as always, was between two flawed candidates who both promised a future that is brighter than present reality. One was elected, the other was not. With regards to policies, plans, promises, and party politics, we will disagree as Americans, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Many good, faithful, upstanding citizens voted for Clinton, and many voted for Trump.
Donald Trump is now in line to become our next president, and just as President Barack Obama deserved our support, so does Donald Trump, however we feel about him. He will be the president for all of us, and we all ought to pray for him and hope that he will exercise good leadership for all 320 million Americans.
However, there is one way this election cycle was different than any other in my lifetime. There is no denying that Trump’s campaign included inflammatory rhetoric towards women, people of color, Muslims, and persons with disabilities. His running mate has a history of restricting civil rights for the LGBT community.
As a result, the election seems to have led to an uptick in harassment and violence, particularly towards persons of color and Muslims. Women are feeling hurt and undervalued, and LGBT persons wonder if the rights they’ve fought so hard for will now be taken away. Simply put, there are a lot of Americans afraid of a Trump presidency right now.
Whether we believe these fears are justified or not doesn’t matter. When our fellow citizens are fearful, our responsibility isn’t to encourage them to “get over it.” We cannot tell people how they are supposed to feel. Our responsibility as Americans and Christians is to advocate for and protect them, just as we would want someone to do for us if we felt scared or undervalued. Our citizenship and our faith requires it.
However, for most of us here in Washington County, the election was overshadowed by the events in Canonsburg on Thursday morning. This was a tragic event in so many ways. The death of one police officer, Scott Bashoium, and the wounding of another, James Saieva, reminds us that every day, police officers in our communities put their lives on the line in order to keep us safe. They need our prayers not only today, but every day.
While we pray for the family Scott Bashoium, and for all law enforcement officers, two other persons died in this altercation. Their families are grieving today as well.
We must not overlook that Dalia Sabae, who was three months pregnant, was killed by a man she had a protection from abuse order against. This marks the 2nd time in 3 months in our region that a woman was killed by the spouse she had a protection from abuse order against. This should be enough to raise our awareness of domestic violence and begin to work against it.
If you’ve ever wondered why more victims of domestic abuse and violence don’t seek help, this is why. The seeming ineffectiveness of protection from abuse orders is only going to make it even more difficult for people in this area to report that they are being abused. We must do more to protect the vulnerable among us, and that work must begin immediately.
We also must think of our children, and teach them that abuse and violence is never okay. While women can be abusers as well, it is much more common for men to be the abuser, so our boys and men need to be taught from an early age that violence is not okay. It is never okay. This is learned behavior.
Yes, we’ll pray for all these things today, but let this also be a wake-up call for us to do more than pray. Our Christian faith compels us to seek justice and to defend the powerless. This is a clear issue that calls us to take tangible action as a community, so this does not happen again. Volunteer with or donate to Domestic Violence Services of SW PA. Work to make laws more stringent. If you know of abuse taking place, don’t look the other way. Take a stand. It’s the responsibility of all of us to work together to end domestic violence. The Lord requires this of us.