We Are All Winners!

November 9, 2008

 

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

  

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Oh my friends, my friends, our title and our topic for this morning is “We Are All Winners!” We are all winners today.

 

Fireworks of joy have been going on around the world this week, and I feel that I would be remiss as a pastor if I didn’t talk about it with you today. Not just in America…not just for fans of Barack Obama…but all around the world! Did you notice? Did you watch the news? People in Africa, people in Europe, people all around the world, on the 5th of November, have been rejoicing.

 

At the White House, crowds of thousands spontaneously gathered, and news reporters told us what they were doing. Were they fighting? Were they hitting each other? Were they doing something negative? No! They were singing and jumping and dancing. There have been fireworks of joy going on around the world, literally and figuratively, in spectacular colors, red and green and yellow, gold and silver, exploding more triumphantly than the opening ceremonies at the Chinese Olympics. It’s been happening all around the world.

 

And I am here to tell you that this is the day to thank God for America, because each and every one of you is a winner. Each and every one of you is part of that celebration. You see, it’s not just those who are celebrating about Senator Obama; this celebration is for everyone. Everyone is a winner today. Let me talk about that with you.

 

The scripture says these words in the book of Deuteronomy, the 8th chapter starting at verse 7: “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with springs that gush forth in valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley, of grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, olives, and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. And when you have eaten your fill, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.”  This is the word of the Lord; praise be to God!

 

Doesn’t that sound like America, that land of abundance? Truly, my friends, God has blessed us, and today is the day to say “Thank you, God, for America.” Thank you that we are Americans.

 

Now, let me say right at the outset – I love everybody in this congregation. And I know that there have been folks who have different preferences about the outcome of the election. There are those who preferred Senator Obama, and there are those who preferred Senator McCain, and there are those who wished it had been Senator Edwards or Senator Clinton or Ron Paul or Ralph Nader. I love you all. Can we put aside those preferences just for a moment and realize that we have something in common? We are all Americans, and we all thank God for America today.

 

May I suggest this? The celebrating that’s been going on around the world – the thanking of God, the dancing and the clapping and the cheering and the emotional fireworks – is not limited to the victory of one party or one person. It is a victory for America. And the reason we should thank God today is that America works! The system works, and from the bottom of my heart I’m grateful that I lived long enough to see the system work in such a powerful way.

 

Let me say a few more words about why we should thank God today and why we should all take part in the party – because of peace; because of dignity; and because of hope.

 

Because of peace: the leadership of the most powerful nation on earth has been transferred. Barriers have been broken that I never thought I’d live to see. And the transfer has been peaceful. Can I tell you a story about my mom and dad? My mom and dad used to tell me about how, when they were little, in their village, there were times when they had to throw everything that they could, every life necessity, into a wooden wagon with great big wheels, pulled by horses, jump onto that wagon, make sure everybody was on board, and head off as fast as they could out of their village, because enemy soldiers were coming. There had been a transfer of power, and the enemy soldiers were coming to burn the village. That’s my mom and dad! That’s not so many generations back.

 

My father, as a boy of 14 or 15, was captured by the Russian army, because they stole the horses of the village and they needed boys to watch the horses. My father and his friend were captured and taken to Russia to watch the horses. My father and his friend escaped by night. My father had just enough money in his pocket to pay a boatman to get them across the river back into Poland, and they ran back to their village. That’s what things were like not so many years ago. And in America, we had this tremendous transfer of power, and it was peaceful. Don’t you thank God for that? I do. We watched the campaign on TV, and it got rough sometimes, verbally. But it was a peaceful transition overall. Nobody hit anybody. There is peace in America, and I am proud of it.

 

My father had above his bed a little wooden plaque. It had an American flag on it. He bought it the day he was naturalized as a United States citizen, and it said, “I am proud to be an American.”  And Dad, so am I. What we saw this week was dignity. Can’t we all be proud of that, whether we preferred Obama or McCain? Can’t we celebrate the dignity with which those two great men resolved the situation? Senator Obama showed great dignity in congratulating Senator McCain on his well-fought campaign and his service to this country.

 

And I salute Senator McCain for one particular moment in his concession speech. Did you see it? He got up before his supporters and said, “I wish to congratulate Senator Barack Obama on his victory as the next President of the United States.” The crowd began to boo. And did you see what Senator McCain did? He raised his hands as far as he could; he looked at the crowd with the most serious look I’ve ever seen him use; he shook his head no; and he crossed his hands in front of him. The crowd went silent. What a great moment! What a statesman for having done that! He told the crowd with his gestures, “No, I will not tolerate bitterness. This is a country of dignity.” And for that, I certainly salute him and respect him.

 

So, America has peace and it has dignity. And oh, dear friends, America has hope. The whole world has a new surge of hope. And we all need to come together. We need to be on our knees in prayer that God would inspire President-elect Obama and all his administration to lead in a good and sincere and right way for the benefit of all the people of the world. The world is looking to America these days, and it’s seeing a shining light upon the hill. It’s seeing a country that can transfer power peacefully and with dignity and with hope. Clearly, the world is in tough shape in many ways, and there will be many problems to conquer, but we are a people of hope. And I would like to say today that I believe deep in my heart that America’s best days are before her and not behind her, and that with God’s help and God’s blessings and our prayers we can see greater days than ever. We are living through a time as monumental as the days of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, FDR, Abraham Lincoln, the Revolutionary War – we are living, you and I, through these days. What a blessing!

 

And so, let there be prayers in our hearts for our leadership as we go forward in the world, that America might continue to be a city on a hill, a beacon of light to all the world. And let us all say, deep in our hearts, thank God for America. God bless America.

 

God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen. 

 

© 2008 Anthony J. Godlefski