All Saints Day C: The Last Laugh after Midterm Elections

The Lessons for All Saints Day/Sunday are:

Old Testament      Daniel 7:1–3, 15–18

Psalm                    Psalm 149

New Testament     Ephesians 1:11–23

Gospel                   Luke 6:20–31

I’m particularly interested in our Gospel reading, and having the last laugh. Jesus speaks a lot of “blessings and woes” here, but the essence of them all is captured in this: “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh (Luke 6:21).”

Having the last laugh here doesn’t mean you will be able to spitefully shout “nanna, nanna, boo” to everyone that will be proven wrong by coming events. It means something far better: “This sad story of a life will have a very happy ending.”

I cling to that as I watch the political ads and listen to the political pollsters. It used to be that Republicans of old had their share of good ideas, and that the two parties of our system of government kept things in relatively healthy balance. As a nation we have waged stupid wars, tolerated cruel social inequities, and treated God’s beautiful creation like our own private garbage dump. But there were always some statesmen and states-women in both parties who learned history’s lessons. Slowly, yes, but they did learn them and then fought for the world’s best interests as they learned to see them.

But today there is one party that has decided to throw all of our hard earned lessons out the window. The great majority of this party has absolutely nothing positive to offer the nation or the world. Its advocates instead spend all their time parroting talking points full of lies and fear mongering. Their message is that the 2020 election was stolen, so we must not allow too many people to vote in the next one,;  the Democrats use classrooms to groom children for sex abuse; the answer to gun slaughter is to put more guns in more people’s hands;  the poor should be locked up before the overworked courts can administer justice; if we just get tough with the people who have sex, gender, and pregnancy issues the complexities of life will just go away; and the future of the planet is certainly not as important as the corporate bottom line.

It is a pity that both of our political parties have morphed into something like AI machines that covet power more than the common good. But the Republican party has embraced this reality with both arms as it lives now in the dark shadow of its last failed President—a man who continues to be willing to sabotage all public trust in the democratic process in order to keep his base of support fired up.

This is why I weep now. It is because it appears that the BIG LIES will win the Republican party more power in the elections of 2022. More power to gerrymander. More power to stack the courts. More power to erase all of the red lines of propriety and decency.

And yet. It is wonderful to be reminded of the “and yet.” It is wonderful to be reminded that we who vote this November are not the last hope of Western Civilization. The story will continue until the happy ending.

The global temperature will certainly rise, triggering floods and droughts. Plagues will persist. Inequities and various forms of racism will persist. Even more wars will break out. And we, the stupid human race, will ignore those with true solutions, and persist in electing the best liars.

But there is another Spirit blowing. The prophets and peacemakers may be outvoted this November, but their voice will be heard, and there will be other elections. Justice and the health of Creation may mean less to the majority today than the price of gasoline, but justice and the balance of nature are uppermost in the Creator’s mind, and people of faith will work for them. We may make war like giants and peace like pygmies, but the Prince of Peace is even now pouring out shalom in the hearts of millions.

Followers of Christ live against the trends. No matter what liars the polls say will win this election, people of the Truth stick to their principles and do it out loud. They feel real pain when they are hated for it—or worse yet, ignored. But to speak peace, justice, and truth today is to live as people of the future. We weep now, but we will have the last laugh.


About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
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