Across the Pastor’s Desk: The better angels will win day

Published 8:00 pm Friday, November 18, 2022

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Ken Jensen

A newspaper headline recently caught my eye. It read, “The Normalization of Hate.” My mind flashed back to Jan. 6, 2021, when I watched rioters invade the U.S. Capitol. One man, standing next to a replica of a hangman’s gallows, carried a sign that read, “Jesus Saves” while shouting, “Hang Mike Pence.”  

Individuals who claim to follow Jesus are not immune to being infected with hate. One does not have to retreat to the eras of the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, Nazi Germany or the segregated South to witness how infectious it can be.  It happens whenever we take our eyes off Christ.  

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In his book “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels,” historian Jon Meacham makes reference to what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” and how they win the day.

He writes: “Progress in America does not usually begin at the top among the few, but from the bottom among the many. It comes when the whispers of those outside the mainstream rise in volume to reach the ears and hearts and minds of the powerful.”

Meacham relates events in history to make his point. He instills a sense of hope that while we live in a deeply divided, sometimes hate-filled society, there is a beacon of light pointing to the future.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes those who follow him as “lights” in the world.”  A city on a hill cannot be hidden, he said. “Neither do people put a light under a bowl but on a stand so that it gives light throughout the house. In the same way, we are to let our lights shine before everyone so that they may see our good deeds and give praise to God” — Matthew 5:14-16.

The Apostle Paul wrote that anyone who is in Christ, “…is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” — 2 Corinthians 5:17-18.

Light reveals truth, and reconciliation heals relationships. These are the means by which we, as followers of Jesus, can and will bring out the better angels to win the day.

Ken Jensen is a retired ELCA Lutheran pastor living in Albert Lea.