Television lights were hoisted 100 feet in the air. An older woman danced with her grandson to sounds of Stevie Wonder’s “Sign, Sealed, Delivered.” Some of the tens of thousands of people in Grant Park cheered, others cried. Many of us stood silently as the announcer proclaimed the words that we all came out to hear: “Ladies and gentlemen, the next First Family of the United States …”
With those words Barack Obama walked across a blue platform, out of anticipation and into history. In that magical moment, the words that Obama himself would proclaim just moments later rang clear in our hearts, though yet unspoken: “Change has come to America.” From the oldest man to the youngest child, everything was different, anything was possible and everyone better.
Then at 5:30 this morning, the alarm clock rang. Some of the pixie dust from the night before seemed to have fallen off. Though I was still proud and I felt strong. The morning after the election of the first African American President of the United States, I realized I was headed for a place I didn’t want to be–regular.
When I left my house in Englewood, a predominately Black community on the South Side of Chicago, the garbage was still on the ground. The streets needed fixing and kids, on their way to school, still looked poor. That’s when the truth of the words spoken by our next president hit me: “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance to make that change.”
Those words inspired me. They played over and over in my head as I rode the regular Red Line train into the regular Chicago Loop, with the regular people who shared this regular passenger car with me each regular day.
Suddenly, I was struck with a profound challenge. We can’t allow ourselves to be regular. In these extraordinary times, we as believers must figure out how to be extraordinary ourselves.
November 4, 2008, is indeed one the most significant moments in the unfolding story that is the United States of America. But, this chapter in American history will not be written at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It will be written on street corners and college campuses, in office buildings and on farms, in every home, church, and school in this country. History will judge this new era not only by who resides in the White House but by the strength, character, and commitment of the people who don’t.
Perhaps you supported Barack Obama in his bid for the White House. Perhaps you supported someone else. Either way, Obama’s election represents a new day in America. We will spend the next decade building a new nation.
My deepest prayer is that Christ is at the middle of that nation and not on the fringes of it. I pray that believers, especially young believers, will respond to their president’s call to “join in the work of remaking this nation.”
I hope that the church in this new America will pray, serve, preach and love. I pray that we will spread the gospel, to paraphrase Obama, “the only way it’s been done [effectively] in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”
For Christ’s glory alone.