The True and Better Inauguration
Yesterday we witnessed a new presidential administration sworn in to lead the executive branch of the American government for the next four years. This was the 59th time our country has celebrated a peaceful transition of power and Joe Biden will be the 46th man to serve as president (and Kamala Harris the first woman to serve as vice-president).
If the Lord tarries (and our union holds), this will all take place again in four years.
America’s quadrennial rhythm of mini-revolution is an ingenious strategy to release the turbulence of adjusting power without allowing it to build up in tension until it must be released in a catastrophic cultural or political seismic shift that ends up destroying our shared lives and hopes.
But what happens when the transition in power doesn’t relieve the tension of polarized politics and culture?
The tremors don’t stop. The exhausting shaking just keeps rattling the furniture of our hearts and won’t allow us to rest. We keep expecting things to fall apart and we live tensely, wondering what will fall next.
The temptation is to think that if we could just get the power to shift our way… If our shelf of the continental divide of social and political values could gain the position of strength, the shaking would stop. We could rest. And all would be well.
But, as followers of Christ, we know this is completely delusionary – and idolatrous. There is no kingdom, no administration, no party, and no political platform in this world (whether in modern America or ancient Rome), that can bring in the fullness of life we all crave.
That’s not to say that elections aren’t important or that policy platforms aren’t consequential to our shared lives as citizens of this worldly nation. They are, and we should all think carefully and humbly about the policies we support and the politicians we endorse.
But as important as all this is, it is only temporary. Not simply because it will happen again in four years, but because we already know the end of the story. Maybe not the short term electoral college story – but the true and better story. The Big Story that, in the end, will be the only story that matters: the story of the resurrection kingdom.
The vain-glory of every worldly nation will finally give way to the true glory of the true kingdom and the arrival of the true king – because the true and better inauguration has already taken place.
It was a bloody and glorious affair. The dark, demonic power of this world rose up to finally dethrone the king by hanging him on a cross. The world used its power of death to try to eliminate the author of life. Hatred tried to silence the whisper of love. Darkness tried to extinguish the radiance of his glory.
And, for a moment, the darkness thought it had won.
But in the quiet space after the shaking, after the lifeless body of Jesus was casually discarded by the self-important power-brokers of this world and laid in the ground to be swallowed by the suffocating darkness of its humiliation, a new tremor was felt. A simple but presumably unmovable stone was rolled away. The stone that had, through all human history, sealed the dead in the darkness to which they had gone.
The king hadn’t been defeated at all. He intentionally and strategically submitted to death, that by dying, he might defeat the power of death. The one man who had never sinned boldly took the penalty of sin and, having paid the price, rose victoriously. For the first time, a man returned from the darkness.
Death didn’t defeat love. Love defeated death. And when the king was raised from the dead, it was the true and better inauguration of the king who brought with him a new kingdom of resurrection power.
Believers, we are citizens of this true kingdom. We are children of light and love, not children of fear and anger. We stand in the confidence of the resurrection, not in the fear of death. We are free to love even as we are loved and have no need to “wrestle with the pigs” of worldly power to gain worldly power.
Y’all, whether we find ourselves celebrating or mourning this most recent (temporary) transition of power in America, let’s do it as those who know where we stand in the Big Story of history.
It is time for us to repent of our petty resentments (toward the past administration or toward the current – or those who voted for them), our small fears, and our idolatrous hopes. We are children of the risen king and are citizens of his heavenly kingdom. We are incalculably rich in grace and blessing and will only grow richer as we share the riches of his love with one another and the world around us.
And, ironically, it is only when we are rich in love that we will be of much good to this world of darkness anyway.
Together, let’s grow rich in grace and generous in love!