I’m watching the people pour into the Washington Mall in anticipation of this historic day. As I’m watching the images of the crowd amassing between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument, I can’t help but think about the last time I was at the Mall.
It was October 4, 1997. A small group of us from Milligan had driven up to D.C. the previous evening. One of the more prominent memories about the car ride was when I told Scott Berggren that I needed him to pull over…immediately. He did. And that was a good thing. I proceded to throw up all over the side of the highway. We stayed in a large church that night. Got up the next morning, grabbed some breakfast (I had a McDonald’s sausage & egg biscuit, and a banana…I thought my stomach was better…I was wrong), and loaded onto a caravan of buses and rode to a parking lot near the Pentagon. As we began to walk towards the Washington Monument (that seems like a long walk. Maybe it was. Maybe I’m mistaken about where we were…but that’s what I remember), I had to stop again. Yes, I threw up all over the parking lot. And my shoes.
But I kept going. Because I wasn’t going to miss this Sacred Assembly of Men.
Because I was sick and exhausted, I don’t remember too much about that day. But I do remember a couple of things. I remember there was a prayer for unity within the church and we were encouraged to reconcile ourselves with one another because of the divisions (especially racial) that we’ve allowed to occur within the church. All of a sudden, this guy comes out of nowhere, grabs one of our friends (who happens to be black), and embraces him.
“I’ve sinned against you, brother,” the anonymous white man said.
It has served as a powerful reminder of how we can be reconciled to one another. I’ll never forget that moment.
And it’s on that same Mall that history is taking place today.
Since the campaigns began, I’ve been arguing that you cannot vote for a person simply because of the candidate’s race. Race is no reason to vote for someone and it certainly isn’t a reason to vote against someone. So although race shouldn’t have been a factor during the election process, now that we’re about to swear-in the nation’s first African-American President, it’s time to celebrate. And the church should be leading the way. Not because of any misplaced hope in a person, but because of the life-changing, unifying power of the good news of Jesus Christ!
This is truly an historic day. It’s a day we can help lead towards healing for the centuries of division between us based upon color of skin. It’s a day where we can begin to hope that Dr. King’s dream will someday be fulfilled and we will one day judge people not on the color of their skin but the content of their character.
It’s a day where we can embrace each other and say, “I’ve sinned against you, brother. I’ve sinned against you.”