Wednesday, November 9, 2016
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (BCP, p. 824)
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Here are some thoughts on the election. I know that some in our congregations are celebrating the result, others are feeling distraught, and others are just feeling confused as they seek to understand what it might mean. This election cycle has revealed more fully the depths of the divisions in our country that we live in a deeply divided country. How might Christians respond? As the earliest Christians prayed for the Emperor of Rome, we pray for the President. We will pray for President-elect Trump. And we will pray and work for the healing of this nation and the world. How do we respond, especially since these divisions exist within our own congregations? I suggest a few things.
First, let us commit ourselves to the hard work of life together. Let us dare to enter the uncomfortable space of listening, learning from, and seeking to understand one another. Let us be willing to speak the truth to one another in love, challenging one another to better follow the way of Jesus – with patience, gentleness, humility, and mutual reverence. Living together is not easy. Loving one another in the way of Jesus is not easy. Our Lord demonstrated it is the way of the cross. He calls us to take up that cross and follow him. It is hard. But it is also the way of God’s mercy and delight and is part of our call to be the light of the world.
Second, we need to acknowledge that elections and policies have consequences. Many believe the election will lead to greater security. Many others feel more vulnerable and afraid now than they did before the election. Whether one believes these fears are justified or not, it is imperative that a Christian – however he or she voted – reach out to them with care and compassion. The Gospel is not neutral. Remember that we will be judged based on how we treat “one of the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46). There is a clear bias in the Bible and the Church’s tradition for the poor and vulnerable. There is a clear bias for peace and reconciliation. Christians have disagreed about what these mean for public policy, but I challenge us all to make those gospel biases our own.
Third, elections matter, but they do not matter ultimately. Neither do our national or political loyalties. As Christians, our true citizenship is not as Americans but as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Our real allegiance lies elsewhere. Our hope and faith lie not in any political party, ideology, or program, but in the life-changing, world-changing message of Jesus.
We must continue to live faithfully and hopefully. Be merciful. Be kind and patient and gentle with one another. Love and enjoy those dear to you. Love and be charitable to those you find it difficult to love. Delight in and give thanks for the joys of life – the presence of loved ones, the wonder of creation, the beauty of art, a good nap, etc. Say your prayers. Attend worship. Love God. Love your neighbor.
Under the Mercy,
The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter
VIII Bishop of Fond du Lac