The news is unrelenting, compelling. The final throes of the presidential election in the United States are being played out and the improbable – indeed what some believed, impossible – has happened. I will leave it to more able and seasoned commentators to ask the why and wherefores of electing Donald Trump and not electing Hillary Clinton.
I want to ask about hope.
It seems that, for many who chose to vote for Mr Trump, hope was a motivator. People hope their lives will change, that their lot will improve. Some hope that their country will find a new direction, or perhaps return to what they believe their country looked like before. Before President Obama, or the Presidents Bush, before the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, before the Twin Towers, before globalisation, or just simply, intangibly, before.
For many, life has become increasingly hard, and the changes with which they are confronted have become remorseless. It is these people who have found no sense of hope with what they perceive as “the system”, so they have turned elsewhere, leaving a fractured system in their wake. Systems are, by their nature, dispassionate, whether they are markets, or computers, or flow charts.
The people who believe they are ignored, or rejected, have chosen someone they hope will attend to them. Those who believe they are regularly placed last have elected someone they hope will place them better than last.
It is too easy – and false – to typecast these many millions of people as uneducated, or racist, or wrong. The temple erected for them by the system, of trade liberalisation and market worship, has proved an empty shell for many who were told to believe. Is it a coincidence that Jesus prophesies the fall of the temple immediately after an impoverished widow puts her last coins in the temple coffers?
Hope is realised when people know they have value – and any system will fail them there. The best sermon means nothing if the preacher has no integrity – integrating words spoken and life lived. Anyone who claims to offer hope by blaming others, by scapegoating or punishing, is not offering hope, but hatred.
The temple is not worthy of your faith. You’ll find no hope in a building, you’ll find it in God’s act in Jesus Christ. Jesus did not simply notice wounds, he healed them. He did not simply name the lost, he embraced them. Jesus did not simply identify the broken, he identified as one of them, and in so doing, saved us all.
On this day, when I don’t understand how this result can have happened, I place my hope in the one who invests everything in the whole creation – to give life.
This I believe, and therefore I have hope:
the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end.