How do we heal and move forward as a nation?
That was the question posed to Bishop Kenneth Ulmer during his appearance on Today With Hoda & Jenna yesterday (November 9, 2020) alongside Rabbi Steve Leder. Bishop Ulmer leads Faithful Central Bible Church, and Rabbi Leder leads Wilshire Boulevard Temple, both in Los Angeles. Show hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager asked the two men, who have a unique friendship, how the people in our country can come together and heal after such a tumultuous and divisive political season. Here’s how Bishop Ulmer responded:
Jenna Bush Hager: “What did you say this Sunday to your congregation?
“There’s a passage in the Bible that says weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice [Romans 12:15]. I opened up [the sermon] with Charles Dickens’ line, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ There are people around the world who are split. Some are dancing, some are rejoicing, and some are weeping. I tried to help us understand that the love of God is large enough to embrace our differences. I want us to move forward and acknowledge those differences. There are people in our families you may not wish to come to thanksgiving dinner, but they’re part of the family and you may disagree with them. The Bible says that God can heal the land if we will humble ourselves [2 Chronicles 7:14]. If you lost, pray for those who won. If you won, pray for those who lost. I tried to move them to a point of acknowledging the differences.”
Jenna Bush Haker: “A lot of people are waking up feeling fearful, feeling worried. How can we make sure that in our little families and our communities we are spreading joy and goodness?”
“I think it’s two things. It’s certainly the element of humility. And secondly from humility to hope. Let’s face it our country has been through some rough times before. There are some people who said the last administration was the worst administration in the history of the country. Some say the administration before that—and look we’re still here. I think healing begins by looking forward and includes the element of humility. Somebody’s going to have to admit I was wrong. Somebody’s going to have to say I missed it and yet I’m not an enemy. So we look forward instead of being stuck looking behind. We recognize that what is coming is better than what has been.”
Hoda Kotb: “People are wondering how to start the healing process.”
“Relationally. My friendship with Steve [Leder] is a gift from God. It’s not just a gift socially, but it’s a gift from God psychologically, it’s a gift from God emotionally. It begins with a personal relationship. Our relationships are a gift of god. It begins with a personal relationship. God brings people into our lives, if we will allow it, to give us hope and to give us healing.”
Bishop Kenneth Ulmer’s book Walls Can Fall: Race, Reconciliation & Righteousness in a Divided World is out now.