“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-fuel of that war. We have come here to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that tiiat nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hollowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great ask remaining before us that, these from these honored death we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
(Abraham Lincoln 19 November 1863)
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In this same way I loved you, you love one another. This is How everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for one another.” (The Gospel according to John 13:34-35)
The words of Abraham and the words of Jesus – speak of a vision of what can be; of what might be. They both speak of a world coming to be; experiencing birth and renewal. But both speak of the struggle that demands consciousness; demands awareness and sacrifice. Life does not come to fulfillment without the pain of giving birth. It also requires trust. This trust is perhaps the most difficult to hold, especially in the midst of great pain and loss.
Often, we pray to God to take away our pain and suffering; we dream of a heaven where everything is peaches and cream and filled with softness and peace. The message of the Gospel – of the Christ – is that life does not grow without the experiences of pain, suffering and death. The creation is a constant moving forward, letting the old die and the new be born – and engaging in the struggle. Abraham Lincoln understood the struggle of a nation coming to be; not yet fulfilled but growing. Jesus saw within himself and within humanity the Spirit of Life struggling to become. Jesus and Abraham both called us; humanity; to life: to pay attention – to look around and see; to get involved. The Journey is long and difficult, but we are called to walk the mountain together.
The problem is when we assume we have no responsibility for our world; for justice; for equality; for life in all of it’s forms. We wait for someone else to to it – we have other priorities. The American dream is still just a dream for so many; a dream that for many becomes a nightmare. We don’t always know how to walk the walk together – we let fear take over with greed power or wealth at the expense of others. We fail in our responsibility to love one another – especially those who might think, believe, look, or be different in some way. We lack trust (faith) and search for independence and control – we make ourselves into gods that we worship.
We are called instead to work together – trusting in the Spirit that brings life to our world. We are called to understand the vision that points us in the right direction and then to build bridges and tear down walls. We are called to begin to sacrifice together for the common good. In the meantime, in our human weaknesses and blindness, we hide and hide from letting go of our fears and to trust in life. This is the message of Jesus the Annointed One; It is the vision of Abraham, calling us to build a great nation and a great world, working together and loving one another and engaging in the struggle; sharing the pain, and letting the old die so that the new can be born to life.