I’m taking a risk today and writing about the election. My hesitancy isn’t because I may upset some people (I will not endorse any candidate), but that the atmosphere around the election has become so emotionally charged that well-intentioned people find it difficult to even think about politics without feeling anxious, suspicious or even fearful. We cannot, as Christians, accept that type of human-created fear. Regardless of who is elected this year, we need to claim our joy as Christians and do what we should do best - PRAY!
Forward Movement, the publishing house that prints Day by Day and many other evangelism resources, saw an opportunity to call upon all Christians, especially Episcopalians (it is an Episcopal institution), to offer prayer for our country, our elected officials and ourselves for 30 days prior to the election. That started last Sunday on October 9th, so I apologize for being 4 days late, but I know God will forgive. You can find much more information here. There are resources for the weekly theme, daily prayers and a great reminder that the Church is to stand as a prophetic voice to any government, helping advocate for the voiceless and ensuring dignified treatment of all people.
I also believe we are called to ask for healing in our country. There is a rift in our society that has been exposed. The discontent is impossible to articulate simply, but the desire is to blame someone for whatever caused the problem. People start verbally and physically attacking each other rather than FIRST seeing the other as a CHILD OF GOD who deserves respect of their dignity. We cannot lose this basic understanding of our faith. We must claim this truth – especially for those we disagree with – or we might lose too much.
I give thanks for the fact that at St. Barnabas we have people with very different points of view who are able to come and break bread together, to have time to fellowship with each other, and learn from each other. Healing must begin with such honesty, even about our own fears and doubts, in order to find Christ in the midst of our brokenness.
We should remember March 4, 1797 (guess who went to Independence Hall this summer!). That date is significant because it was when John Adams, our second president was inaugurated. Many countries around the world were waiting for our nascent democratic country to fall into civil unrest or even war, but what happened was a peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. It was an incredible accomplishment, yet we have repeated it 43 more times.
I have faith we will achieve it the 45th time as well. The person inaugurated may not be the person we personally want in that roll, but we are still called upon, as Christians, to offer prayer for that individual and for all those who offer themselves in political service. And when those elected officials don’t do what we want, then we have the opportunity and obligation to offer our voice – with respect – into the political arena.
In light of all this, I offer the Litany of Sound Government to begin our prayer as we seek to do God’s will on earth:
O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth. Lord, keep this nation under your care.
To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.
To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.
To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.
And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name. For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Amen.