Although I think it would have been pretty miserable for my boys to attend the inauguration last week, I am a teeny bit disappointed that we only watched this historic event on television. From all accounts from friends that went, it was an amazing and uplifting experience to be there. Even watching ten miles away on the couch, I could sense the spirit of unity. And how often do you hear about that many people gathering together without incident? The worst thing that occurred was that a few children were temporarily separated from their parents–a testament to the planning and security of the event, but also indicative of a changed spirit in our beloved nation.
And change is fitting isn’t it? After all, President Obama’s platform is change. He’s even written a book about change, Change We Can Believe In. But for me the hope of January 20, 2009, was not about new government programs or a better international reputation, it was about the change in your pocket. And I’m talking about keeping more of it, or anything to do with economic policy, I’m talking about literal change. Coins and the words that mark each one.
We all seem to know that our coins and dollar bills are marked with the official motto of the United States of America, “In God We Trust.” A great motto to be sure.
But what came to mind last Tuesday were the latin words that also mark each coin, e pluribus unum, which means out of many one. Does that not summarize the image of the throngs on the mall last week? They were there from every state, with incredibly diverse backgrounds, opinions and convictions, and yet in that moment, all was set aside to celebrate the peaceful transition of power as Americans. Out of many, one. It was really something to behold.
While unity as a nation is wonderful, unity as believers is even more important. Psalm 133 tells us that God bestows his blessing on those who live together in unity and in Romans 15:5-6 Paul speaks a blessing of unity, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So even though each of us is a unique creation, we are called to use our different gifts in a spirit of unity for the glory of God. This week may we put on love which binds us in perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14) and apply the wisdom of the Puritan Richard Baxter who said, “In things essential unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things charity.”