For what I have received from the Lord, I have also passed on to you.
And suddenly it’s very dusty in here.
My earliest memory of what it means to be an American centers around Election Day. It seems impossible that I remember something so long ago, at such an early age, but it was 1980 – I was four years old, and Ronald Reagan would defeat Jimmy Carter that day.
And what I remember is the women of my family. My grandmother, my how I miss her, how I wish my daughter could have spent time with her. Such a wise old bird, as she used to say about her own mother. We lost her at 59 years old. Her desk sits beside me, in my living room – a tall writing desk that stood in her kitchen – the place where my memory of Election Day 1980 occurs.
I remember my mom, Suzan, and my Aunt Donna, the two women who have had the biggest influence on my life – they largely made me who I am, in my deepest being – bustling around the house, the old homestead on Neblett, getting ready to pile into their cars and go vote.
The Lord Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, He broke it, saying “This is my body, given for you. Take and eat. Do this for the remembrance of me.”
I don’t really ever remember hearing that word – vote – before that day. And I remember asking what it meant. Of course, Mom and Donna and Gramma explained to me what all the fuss was about, that Election Day is when we choose a President. That men and women died for our right to do this. That not everybody had always had the right to vote, and that if we wanted to keep our right to vote, we had to do it, every single time we get the chance.
Every single time we get the chance. Because some people don’t get that chance.
I remember Gramma telling me – for the first time I remember anyone explaining it to me – that most of the world didn’t get to choose their own leadership. That was true then, and it’s still somewhat true today. She was a Reagan voter, and I’m not sure I really remember it politically – I mean, I was four – but I’m pretty sure it was because of Reagan’s patriotic message, the idea that it was Morning in America, and that the United States served as a beacon of hope for the oppressed and the downtrodden. Because she believed those soaring words, America as the New Colossus: Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Some of us still yearn to breathe free. Some of us still believe that America is how we will all someday breathe free.
In this same way, after supper, He took the cup, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood – do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Who do you remember when you go to the polls?
I remember Ann Green, who wouldn’t have liked Hillary Clinton very much but would have been appalled at the idea of Donald Trump. But it wouldn’t have mattered. She’d have voted, for somebody. And she’d have made sure that Mom and Donna voted too, because her own father had to earn citizenship to have the right to vote, and her mother came of age at about the time women were first granted the franchise.
I remember how she believed in the greatness, and the goodness of America. How she insisted that those things are rooted in the People. And how she obviously believed that the way to keep America great, and good, was for the People to insist that our leaders reflect the goodness and greatness of the People. She believed that the stronger the voice of her good people, the greater America could be.
Therefore, as often as we eat this bread and drink of this cup, we proclaim His death until He comes again. Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith.
Today is the day we renew our covenant. It’s the most American day of the quadrennium, the essence of our very being, and the expression of our belief in who we are. It’s Election Day.