I gave half a sermon last weekend, ceding the other half to a visiting minister and his interesting comments about the election through Canadian eyes. My 10 minutes took half a week to write, and I finally settled on a "concession speech", ending my comical, run for presidency sermon of last month. There were, it turned out, an awful lot of folks to thank.
At the first service, I got choked up on the first sentence and never did quite regain my voice. It was better at the second service but I was still aware of being awash in feelings that were not all mere celebration. I didn't have time until today to wonder why, and I was helped by a NYT opinion piece by Judith Warner called "Tears to Remember,"
a Salon article called by Michael Lind called "Obama and the dawn of the Fourth Republic,",
and even a reading of the AP article by Alan Breed of what preachers had to say about the election, in which I was quoted. (One version is here)
Tears. I wasn't surprised on election night, but I was surprised on Sunday. They were not all tears of joy, either. They were tears held back over all these years of watching the ideals I grew up with withering away. Watching our nation re-learn the lessons of Viet Nam has been so painful. When will they ever learn? Ronald Reagan was elected a few months after I was ordained. My entire career has been spent in what seemed to be an increasingly threatened counter-culture. It's been hard.
They were mostly tears of hope vindicated, however. My faith in God IS faith in the arc of history bending towards justice. Lind's article documented an intuition which I'd been too scared to think; that Obama's election is as much as anything a symptom history grinding into a new gear. That's big enough to weep over.