Dear friends in Christ:
As we continue to await the final results of this expensive and exhausting election season, I’m writing to remind us all of a few essential truths that I pray will guide us as we engage in the difficult work that is before us.
First, we need to honor and trust the process. Even as I write this on Thursday morning, thousands upon thousands of poll workers and election officials are working day and night to ensure that every vote is counted and every election remains free and fair. We need to exercise patience and allow the process to work so that those who are finally elected to govern can do the work they are called to do.
Second, we need to acknowledge that the divisions among us are deep and painful. As our political discourse becomes more and more extreme and those who hold views and support candidates on “the other side” become increasingly demonized, we need to engage with one another with curiosity and compassion, recognizing the humanity of those the world might label as our “opponents.” This is not to say that every opinion is equally valid, and that we just need to learn how to “agree to disagree.” As disciples of Christ, we are called to speak the truth and love our neighbors, and we need to broaden our curiosity and compassion with the courage to hold one another accountable to this calling.
Third, we need to remember that, regardless of who serves as president or which party is on top at the moment, and while the decisions they make and the policies they enact as they govern make a real difference in the lives of real people, our government alone cannot save us. The real work of creating a society in which human dignity is honored and justice is available for all belongs to each and every one of us. Elections are important, but we all need to participate in reweaving the torn fabric of our communities and our relationships.
And, finally, we need to remember the psalmist’s words that many of us read in worship on Reformation Sunday, from Psalm 46, verses 6 and 7: “The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Even when we fear that our world is crumbling and the systems and structures that we have come to rely on are falling apart, we are not alone. God is in the midst of the chaos, not to provide for us a hiding place where we can just wait for things to get back to normal, but as a source of strength and calm, helping us see the path that we are called to walk, and giving us the courage we need to walk this road together.
Bishop Paul Erickson