The last time I sat up waiting for election results was November 9, 2016. We know how that turned out. But last night, December 12, 2017, I stayed up waiting for the election returns for the senate race in the state of Alabama. We know that Alabama is a very conservative state. A very, very conservative state with entrenched values hinged upon the “good old days of Dixie.” The numerous allegations of senate candidate Roy Moore’s relationships with underage girls was a stunner that any sane self-respecting person would have had to take a step back from while conducting a self-evaluation. But no. Not Roy Moore. And if that wasn’t enough, his claims of slavery as the good old days when “families were united” was enough to knock anyone off of their chair. While Moore’s immoral behavior and base values continued to shock me (and, honestly, not much shocks me), it was the group of clergypersons who rushed to his side to proclaim Moore as a moral compass that stopped me in my tracks.
I tell you, I was fearful for all of us. Because we should know by now that even if you live in California, what happens in Maine affects you. If you doubt it, just remember Susan Collins, the Republican senator in Maine who, although originally against the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), has been a fierce fighter against its repeal. This is great news for those of us who prefer to remain healthy and not have to sit in the emergency room every time we get the flu. So when Republican Senator Collins raised her voice despite the backlash against her colleagues, she stood steadfast and cast her vote against the appeal of Obamacare. Now, I’m sure that the fact that her constituents were bombarding her office and protesting against the repeal had something to do with it. But still……
And last night proved that each of us–every one of us as individuals can make a difference. It was a reminder that every voice and every vote counts. And Black people and Latino people and other people of color must never forget this. Listening to the political pundits on CNN and MSNBC yesterday revealed that the experts greatly underestimated the Black voter turnout. “It’s an off-season election,” they said. “Black voter turnout is usually not great,” they said. But guess what? Black voters turned out! Black voters turned out to vote and black voters turned up the heat. Black women especially turned out. In fact, the numbers show that it was the black woman voter who made the difference last night. (HUGE shoutout to the sisters!) Black voters turned out because each Black voter knew that his or her vote was crucial for their survival if they (we) are to turn back the tide of oppression that has washed over our country. We’ve seen what happens when we stay away from the polls. Staying away from the polls is why we have the current occupant of the White House making Twitter decisions each morning. Staying away is never an option for us. Complacency and apathy and throwing up our hands and allowing other people to make decisions for us is never an option for us. Each of us is important and necessary in the stewardship of God’s world and the care of God’s people. This includes our actions when we decide who sits in the legislative offices in our land. And today, for the first time in over a quarter of a century Alabama has a Democratic senator. Congratulations Doug Jones.
Let me tell you a quick story….
In the 8th Chapter of Acts, Philip, one of the original men whom we know as the first deacons in the early church met up with a Black man. Like many black men (and women) who had important roles in history, we do not know his name. He is only known as the Ethiopian Eunuch. He is described by his ethnicity and by his deformity. He is not named. But Deacon Philip caught him reading a book and asks if he understands what he is reading. After Philip explains the passage of scripture from the Hebrew text, the Ethiopian man was baptized and the bible says that he went away rejoicing. Tradition has it that the Ethiopian was instrumental in the spread of the gospel to other parts of the known world. One man… making a difference and spreading the gospel. One man — Philip– taking the time to stop and inquire about a passage of scripture being read by a brother. One person is all it takes, to make a difference.
The senate race in Alabama is over. But the race toward victory is not…. the victory of justice, righteousness, caring for the oppressed and healing the sick. These are the issues that are spoken of in both the Hebrew scriptures as well as our New Testament. Never let anyone tell you that your one voice does not matter. Your one vote matters, your one voice matters, because our victory matters!