Inauguration Day Past

Did you watch the U.S. presidential inauguration yesterday? Today’s Everything New devotional talks about a famous inauguration speech—and the “lasting peace” we all yearn for.

Inauguration Day Past

By Mel Lawrenz, from his Everything New devotional

On March 4, 1865, when President Lincoln gave the short speech which was his second inaugural address, the weather was foul. It had rained for weeks in Washington, turning Pennsylvania Avenue into a sea of mud. The crowd stood in the muck at the base of the Capitol’s steps, its stately new dome one sign of hope the nation might actually survive its trauma. Journalist Noah Brooks was there, and reported that as Lincoln got up from his seat, “A roar of applause shook the air, and, again and again repeated, finally dying away on the outer fringe of the throng, like a sweeping wave upon the shore.” Then Brooks says, “Just at that moment the sun, which had been obscured all day, burst forth in its unclouded meridian splendor, and flooded the spectacle with glory and with light.” The journalist noted that Lincoln later said to him, “Did you notice that sunburst? It made my heart jump.”

The crowd listened in profound silence.

The words no doubt planted themselves in the people’s consciousness immediately, tense and poignant as those late Civil War days were. But, according to Brooks, “chiefly memorable in the mind of those who saw that second inauguration must still remain the tall, pathetic, melancholy figure of the man who, then inducted into office in the midst of the glad acclaim of thousands of people, and illumined by the deceptive brilliance of a March sunburst, was already standing in the shadow of death.”

Within weeks, Lincoln would be shot dead.

His assassin, John Wilkes Booth, listened to the speech on the Capitol steps, not far from where Lincoln spoke

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
Those were some of Lincoln’s memorable words.

Most people search for a simple thing in life: a place of peace. They would welcome a whole day without fighting in the home. They would be thrilled to have a week of work without feeling beat up. Might a cabin provide that place of peace? A boat? Some unclaimed corner of the house? But most realize that the place of peace must reside in the heart. For however many external storms there are, and however hard the lightning snaps and the mud grabs at your feet, the battle is really inside.

It takes a God of peace to make peace happen:

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [in Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).

God knows, he really knows, just how intense the wars on earth are. Civil wars are the massacre of civil brotherhood, but God knows that they, too, kill humanity–the dismemberment of Adam. People who have been robbed, or raped, or mugged always talk about the utter and complete violation of self that occurred, and that is why they sleep fitfully. To God, it is that plus a desecration of the sanctuary that is a human person. When an evil deed despoils a human person it is like spilling blood in a temple. No wonder we want peace. No wonder God wants peace.

You can learn more about Mel’s ministry and follow his blog at The Brook Network. Sign up to receive his Everything New devotional each week.

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