I’ve lived in Virginia for sixteen years and had never visited Mt. Vernon, so this holiday season we made the trip. Traffic wasn’t bad. The view was magnificent. Tour guides weren’t anything to write home about. But none of those things inspired me to think or to write.
We toured the grounds and the house and I was quite impressed with the stewardship George Washington took with his property and his profession. He worked hard, that’s true. But he made absolutely certain that efforts and energies were fully utilized. He was indeed a man one could respect. His wife, Martha, was the same. They tended details in their home as they did in their lives and in the life the new country.
So I was walking through the museum, looking at the amazing, computer generated faces of Mr. Washington. So lifelike. Such blue eyes. And I found myself apologizing to him for what we’ve become. For our country’s divisions and hatefulness. For the way we aren’t what we are supposed to be. It was in that thought, that moment, that I’m pretty sure God said, “Whoa, wait a minute there. Who holds the future? Who set the stars in place in the sky and on that flag? Just because it isn’t yet doesn’t mean it can’t be?”
When I visited Williamsburg and Yorktown I was surprised the country wasn’t formed in a day. You know, July 7, 1776…poof…out popped a country! That instead it took decades of writing and wrangling to get a start and then it came undone and tried to kill itself.
There at Mount Vernon, I could see and feel how far short the beginning was from what was hoped for. The founders of this country knew it was flawed, they knew it had huge divisions…they just made it kind of go along together in generally the right direction. They didn’t know that I deserved a vote or voice. They didn’t make it so women and people of color were part of the “All men are created equal.” The people of their time weren’t ready for that much change, for that much of the dream.
Our country is always on its way to somewhere else. It’s always a dream yet to be realized. It’s like the Kingdom of God, here, right now, and not here at all. Mr. Washington wouldn’t approve of our hatefulness toward one another but I’m sure he wouldn’t find it all that different from some of the stuff they said and did back then.
If we can all settle down and consider God’s power and presence and design and coming Kingdom…read Isaiah 40-45 and hear how God plans to make it work even when it doesn’t seem that way. We get so lost in a couple of weeks or a few years we lose the vision of the millennia. We get so absorbed with our own human limitations and fears and trivialities we lose the ginormous vision of God.
And if this is true for the Kingdom and the country then why not for the United Methodist Church? We aren’t what we can be or should be but we aren’t finished yet! God holds us, our families, our churches, our communities, our country, our Church and our World with outstretched arms. Once we were no people, but now, we are the people of God.