This election process has violated our collective sense of civility and decency. We have called each other 'irredeemable' and 'deplorables.' We have denigrated whole religions, races, and sexes. Our potential leaders and their staffs have crafted messages which have been delivered to us incessantly over 18 months. Such messaging has an effect.
It is naive and ignorant to think that these same people can wave a magic wand and wipe away the offense, the distrust, the hate.
As Christians, we know that reconciliation is work. It is ministry Miroslav Volf, a Croatian theologian at Yale Divinity School, writes ant thinks extensively out of his experience of civil war in the former Yugoslavia. He spoke recently at our clergy conference here in Texas. He outlined his understanding of reconciliation, coming out of his own experience of imprisonment and his understanding of the cross of Jesus.
Steps of Reconciliation
1. We must remember rightly. Perpetrators want to forget as quickly as possible what they have done. Victims/survivors often want to remember for a long time, sometime for centuries. Both need each others' truths to come to a sense of the whole truth.
2. We must forgive. God acts in Jesus to offer grace before anything is done by us. Forgiveness creates freedom to act so that we are not bound by fear and resentment.
3. Apologize. The one who has perpetrated the wrong must accept responsibility for the wrong and to recognize the act forgiveness. Confession frees the perpetrator from shame.
4. Repair. Together, those who have harmed and those who have been harmed work to make and receive amends.
5. Embrace. The one harmed opens himself or herself to the other to receive and the perpetrator embraces the one harmed. They connect and they let go. Neither clings. Reconciliation has happened.
This scheme is completely counter cultural to contemporary America. We are expected to suck it up and forget the wrongs committed and move on. Corporate reconciliation is much more difficult than individual work. As Americans, we are especially bad at this...witness our reluctance to tell the history of women, blacks, and Native People.
We are too raw now to begin the work of reconciliation. We must catch our breaths. We must make space for each other in grief and our hope. We must pray. Fortunately, our tradition gives us words:
For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority
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 and the President-elect, the Governor of this State and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the 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).