The day after the violent storming of our nation’s Capitol, our church still fed the hungry that afternoon. We did not ask our guests who they voted for and we did not ask our volunteers what political party they belong to. There was no morality bouncer at the door saying, “How could you?” or “I told you so!”
This is not to say that politics don’t matter. Clearly they do, and our passions and commitments do as well. But long before this nation existed, the Holy Spirit set a higher standard for how to live in community. If the Spirit can go anywhere, surely we can trust her to reach across the aisles. These days, when the national news gets particularly nasty, I like to go in my imagination to the elevated view of our 1859 historic church balcony, where stained glass windows from four different eras depict ancient Bible stories that are thousands of years old. That high view reminds me that long before our nation’s current strife and division, good people have tried to live a more elevated life than the furious factions that surrounded them.
When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he described a counter-cultural way of being in the world that looked like this: “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”
In other words, when fury-driven half-truths infect our social media and violent mobs attack the Capitol, we need to remember that no law is more powerful than the Holy Spirit. The commandment to love your neighbor as yourself predates both the U.S. Constitution and your cousin’s most outrageous Facebook posts.
Congregations might be one of the last places in our society where we work for a higher purpose alongside people with whom we do not agree politically. It is not just our First Congregational Church that serves a free meal once a week. Many faith communities help and cooperate, united in a calling to serve God by serving others.
If we can come together across political lines to serve a hot home-cooked meal to the hungry, let’s challenge ourselves to serve one another these things as well: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the fruits of the spirit and our morally malnourished nation is starving for them.