Today is both Dr. Martin Luther King day and the second inauguration of President Obama. Each are worthy of deeper reflection, but as Lutheran pastor in mid-west America, I don’t have much to give other than I am thankful and yet yearning.
I am thankful for a nation that can honor one of its slain civil rights leaders, who spoke out against the injustices of racism and poverty in our nation. Thankful that Dr. King’s dream of equality is now woven into our national ethos. His life’s work still inspires me.
I am also thankful that we can celebrate our nation’s ability to transition power peacefully. President Obama is starting his second term, but I am quite confident that in four years our nation will elect a new leader and continue the process of handing the presidential authority to that leader. I may or may not have voted for that person, but still he or she will be my president.
Yet I continue to yearn. Yearn for the day that King’s dream of a true equality and prosperity is our nation’s (and even world’s) reality. Yearn for the day that our leaders can lead us with unity, strength and harmony. Yearn for the day our nation can truly be the beacon of hope for the world.
I know that part of that yearning comes from my faith in Jesus Christ, and the promised of God’s kingdom. We live in the “already” of God’s victory in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but we yearn for the “not yet” of the new heaven and new earth.
Already: This is written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).
Not yet: See the home of God is among mortals, He will dwell with them; and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away (Rev. 21:3-4).
Today’s celebration lives in that tension. I am thankful for the many wonderful blessing that our nation has experienced, while recognizing there is much work to be done and that God’s kingdom has not fully arrived. I do not want to confuse the United States of America with God’s kingdom, yet I remain very thankful that I am an American citizen.
How do you respond to this day’s celebrations?
Lord Jesus, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.