Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).
The upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump will bring happiness to some but bitter sadness to more.
Most of us hope for a leader who can bring us together. But he mobilizes his base by insulting and attacking people they dislike, everyone from Muslim parents of a U.S. soldier who died for his comrades to a black civil rights leader to entire religions and races.
Most of us hope for a leader who can bring out our best moral values in hard times and set an example for our children. But this man openly mocks a disabled man (then denies he did what we plainly see), brags about predatory sexual behavior, and pitches cybertantrums over Saturday Night Live parodies.
Most of us hope for a man who shows strength in the face of threats to our security. But this man acts like an oppositional-defiant child toward the CIA, dismisses our allies, cannot extricate himself from international conflicts of interest, and got his publicly requested assist from Russian hackers to win the presidency.
So here we are.
And those of us who did not vote for him do no good by chanting, “Not my president.” Those who held their nose and voted for him do no good by disparaging his opponent.
Such defensiveness numbs the hunger and thirst for righteousness that Jesus blessed. In blaming bad politicians and those who vote for them, we ignore how we fall short and need forgiveness and help. Such defensiveness obscures the real problem. We are the problem. All of us, individually and collectively.
Donald Trump represents everything rotten in the culture we created either by sins of commission or omission. Greed, narcissism, entitlement, victim-blaming, sexism, racism, bullying, lying, and attacking the messenger for inconvenient truths: All these evils characterize the culture we create or tolerate. Trump caricatures our dark side.
We collude further with Trump in the delusion that he is all-powerful. Only God is all-powerful, and God is love. So if we confess our complicity, God will free and empower us. As we stand in nonviolent opposition to Trump’s evils, we may suffer. But God will prevail and turn it all to good.
Psalm 65 begins:
Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed,
O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come.
When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.
Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.
By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas Psalm 65:1-5).
Noting the confession of sin embedded in this song of praise, Walter Brueggemann wrote:
The whole people (together with the king, presumably) concedes its guilt and celebrates its forgiveness. Such a scene is nearly unthinkable in our public life….The problem is that public imagination is so filled with pride, self-serving complacency, and moral numbness that we could hardly imagine an act of public repentance or acknowledgement of forgiveness, for to ask for and receive forgiveness is to be vulnerable.
But now as we approach the inauguration of a man who caricatures the shortcomings that keep us from such honest relating to God, we can choose to confess them together and move into a better day. Repentance need not be an occasion for breast-beating guilt, but for freedom, gratitude, and praise. So on inauguration day, I will ask God’s forgiveness for complicity in the evils Trump represents. That will bring peace, even celebration and hope.
If you plan to join me, please leave a comment to that effect. We can celebrate together that way.
Hold Your Head Up and Practice Confession
Learning From Donald Trump
Moving Through Prejudice to Peace
Julian’s Joyful Insight Into Sin
Patient Peacemaking Trumps Trump: A Christmas Story
 Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1984), 135.