Identity is both something that is given to us and something we construct. My skin color may reflect the genes of my mother and father, but my race is a product of my culture's imagination.
Some aspects of our identity change as a result of our desire, experience, and aspiration. For example, I was raised in the Church of God, but I seriously considered conversion to Judaism in my 20s. Aspects of our identity may die over time and new dimensions of our selves are chosen or created. This is the central mythos of Christian faith; we die and we are raised. God makes all things new, with our cooperation.
This election season and its aftermath has been a time of death and resurrection for me. Or perhaps I should say I am in the chrysalis phase now; all goo and chaos waiting to be transformed.
I realize I had placed too much faith in political structures to be the way to create the common good and bring the kingdom of God a bit closer. Post -election I realize that I need to repent of this notion; politics alone cannot be the sole vehicle for justice. I realize this was idolatry. Justice is the work of God working through the people to bring hope and healing. Power is the stuff of politics and it alone does not bring the good.
Resurrection requires that we allow the dead to be dead. Both political parties are corrupt and they both ignore the needs of the poor and oppressed in this country and globally. I have come to know that the core of my identity is not as a citizen, but as a Christian. Any articulation of the common good for me must be grounded in the Gospel.
I know that I am not alone in pondering questions of identity and citizenship. Where is this balance for us now?
Beginning Sunday, February 12 at 5 p.m., St. Stephen's will be offering an Epiphany series of prayer and refection on Christian Identity in America Today. Eucharist will be done in the context of a light supper, with the liturgy of the Word being grounded in our conversation. Each week we will be sharing readings and questions to prime our discussion. The clergy will take turns blogging here on these themes.
These are important days for us to practice listening to others who are different from us and to learn to share across various divides. It is also a season to discern what grounds our identities. I hope you will come and invite your friends to join us.
We pray for our President:
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with them with love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 820).