Monday Matters (February 17, 2020)


Some wisdom from Abraham Lincoln:

I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

My concern is not whether God is on our side, my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

There are no bad pictures, that just how your face looks sometimes.

I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.

I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.

No man is poor who has a Godly mother.

I laugh because I must not cry, that is all, that is all.

What would Abraham Lincoln tweet?

We lived in Washington, DC, for a few years when our children were young. During that time, I discovered the Lincoln Memorial, which I came to regard as a thin place (i.e., distance between heaven and earth is thin), a holy place. I wanted to share it with my kids, so I took my young son there. We had to park far away. I had to carry him part of the way. Lots of steps. When we got to the top of the stairs, let’s just say he was not particularly impressed.

He was not quite old enough to take in what moved me so deeply. Not only the history of those steps. In the walls of the memorial are etched the words of Lincoln’s second inaugural address, a succinct speech offered in the middle of the war between the states. The speech reveals a person of faith, a person who knew his Bible, a humble leader, a man of prayer trying to figure out what faith meant in a time of division, when religion was used to justify diametrically opposed points of view. Sound familiar?

On this President’s Day, I invite you to spend a few minutes with this remarkable address. Google the whole thing. And since I have the microphone, let me share a few choice passages:

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other…The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nation.

I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would have to say today? This Monday, imagine our world, our nation, our election process, our workplaces, our homes, our schools, our churches, our hearts as places bearing malice toward none and charity for all. Imagine public discourse that reflects this spirit. We can dream, can’t we? After all, others have dreamed on those Lincoln Memorial steps.

We may feel we have no impact on divisions brought by politicians or pundits or preachers. At times, all I feel we can do is offer the Serenity Prayer, and change what we can for a more perfect union, reflecting our better angels. And we can begin with our own hearts, and with those who cross our paths, and with those we are called to serve. We can ask for the grace to interact with malice toward none and charity for all, so that brokenness can be healed. That would be a great way to observe this holiday.

-Jay Sidebotham

Jay Sidebotham

Contact: Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement

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