You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness. ~ Exodus 23:1
When a dignified general joins hands with a malicious liar in a scurrilous attack on a widow of a soldier and the congresswoman who comforted her, then the depths of despair this single act brings to an entire nation is devastatingly profound. We wake up in that moment–if we awaken at all–to just how lost we have become. This president lies incessantly, daily and about the most sacred things. General Kelly has polluted his character by joining hands with a malicious witness. Shame.
After the fall of the Soviet Empire, countries that had been oppressed by the lies and cruelty of that empire began to unearth their archives in an effort to tell the truth about what had happened to them. The Stasi, the secret police of East Germany, kept a watch over its citizens, turning neighbors against neighbors. I recall reading about a couple, Vera and Kanud Volenberger, who had grown up in East Germany. After the Berlin Wall fell, Vera became a German congresswoman and was instrumental in getting the archives of the Stasi opened so people could read their files. She read her file and discovered details so intimate, details of her health and her husband’s and her finances, excerpts from letters she had written to her children that she realized the only person who could have possibly known her that well and told the Stasi was her husband. She confronted him and he admitted to having been the informer on her.
Americans are waking up to the truth that our president has pitted American against American. He is the great divider-in-chief, polluting our entire society with lies. The former President of the Czech Republic nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and honored by George W. Bush with the American Presidential Medal of Freedom, Vaclav Havel, referred to the country in which he had grown up as a “morally contaminated society.” This sounds very much like the prophet Isaiah’s confession when he cried out in the temple, confronted by a Holy God who expects truth, “woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.” America is polluted by the lies of presidents and generals poured from unclean hearts and mouths.
There is another archive. It is the archive of grace and truth. I take this phrase from Dr. James Melvin Washington and his book, Conversations With God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans. He prayed, “Thou who grants clarity, thank you for permitting us to have access to the archives of Thy grace and truth.” We desperately need to break open these archives! Testaments of faith, hope and love; the affirmation that we are made in God’s image; the expectation that God is holy and expects us to be holy and just. The East German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg tells how important the church was to him and others in the midnight of Communist oppression. The church, he explained, was the one place in their society where they could tell the truth about themselves.
In a culture of pollution, let us find our way toward each other and open the archive of grace and truth. Step out of the fuming hatreds of hearts on fire with hatred. Walk into a holy space and time of grace, truth and love. ~See you Sunday