Sunday, August 26, 2018





CHARACTER




We have known for a year this awful day would come. John McCain has died. He is being eulogized, and will be, all week as we remember his life. He will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol and will have a memorial service in the national cathedral. Nothing could be more fitting for this great man.

I have been thinking a lot about character lately, especially the character of our leaders, or prominent figures. Two people in the public eye stand out to me now as the epitome of good character. Both are more popular now than ever. Mr. Rogers and John McCain. What in the world could these two very different men have in common? I say, a lot. They were the best of the best among us. And so, we are hungry for what they embodied, decency, integrity, moral and ethical principles, and service to others. To me, they are the quintessential horizontal Christians, the best of what Christianity is all about.

God did not have to create human beings. God could have stopped with the animals, the myriad collection of thousands from the very lowly to the mighty. His magnificent creation of flora and fauna could have stood alone on its own. Instead, God in his infinite wisdom, created human beings in its own image. Why? To be its representatives on earth, to care for, promote, and enhance creation and to carry out God's work in the world. At our best, human beings are God's representatives on earth. It is our mission, our raison d'être, to do God's work to make a better world. While our relationship with God begins with the vertical experience of personal salvation, it does not, it must not, end there. That is just the beginning. That salvation must be translated into actions to carry out God's work in the world around us. Vertical must lead to horizontal. We are here to make a better world, not just for ourselves, but for others. Faith without works is dead. Now, we hold up in high regard two who wonderfully embodied that mission in the goodness of Mr. Rogers and the honor of John McCain.

Why are these two more revered now than ever? It is because we are hungry for the good character they had to offer. What we have in our president, and in so many of our leaders today is the opposite of what Rogers and McCain stood for. We see fear, hate, discrimination, racism, division, resentment, violence, and a lack of moral and ethical decency. We have a president who has debased our political order in a way we have never seen. He has alarmingly abused the office of the president. He has wounded the very institutions on which we as a nation rely. He is apparently wholly without moral and ethical principles. The Washington Post has documented more than 4,000 lies he has told as president. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In the face of this moral bankruptcy, we long for public figures who promote decency and honor. We long for the likes of Fred Rogers and John McCain. They were the best among us and they challenged us as Americans and human beings to do better, to be better, to carry out God's work in the world. We are very fortunate to have such, and may many more Rogerses and McCains arise among us. This is our moment of need.  

So, let's take some time this week to reflect on why we should follow the path of the best among us. We are here to do God's work. Mr. Rogers and John McCain showed us how.

What does this have to do with the schism in South Carolina? Plenty. The schism was a failure of leadership. What stands out to me now loudly and clearly is that people are sick to death of the schism. We long for resolution, for peace, for brotherhood and sisterhood, for good will again. We long for the legal warfare to end. We long for decency and honor. Lastly, it looks as if we may be seeing people enacting for themselves what they long for so much in their hearts.