Two of my parent’s long-time friends were members of my former parish (I will call them Ed and Jodi). They met a couple of years before I was born and remained friends for the rest of their lives. In approximately 1958, Ed was offered a job with the Oliver Tractor Corporation, but he wasn’t interested so he told them to look up his friend Dan. He would be a great person for that position. This led to my dad’s forty plus year career in the agricultural industry. During the years I served as Ed’s pastor, we discovered a variety of issues we disagreed on, but before I moved, he asked me to come back some day and speak at his funeral. I said I would be honored.
Twenty years ago a boy named Bruce and a girl named Kristin were in my youth group. I watched them take notice of each other and start to fall in love. I was blessed to officiate at their wedding and fortunate to remain connected with them all these years later. Bruce and I disagree on our nation’s tax system, but that doesn’t impede our relationship.
As we await the inauguration of President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris, I’m reminded there are many of my friends and former parishioners who support President Trump and Vice President Pence. I’ve worked very hard to speak respectfully of my friends and their perspective. I’ve also set a standard to speak truthfully about the actions, comments, policies, and Tweets of President Trump, as I have for every other president. Our mutual respect has helped us maintain healthy relationships.
Over the last two weeks I’ve told you about some of my relationships that include differences of opinion and low levels of conflict. The reason our differences have not done harm to our relationships is because we have treated each other with mutual respect. This is an important lesson for our church as we discuss the inauguration of a new President and Vice President.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. made a great observation about racism in the United States and I believe it is also true about politics: "We must learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or perish together as fools."
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