A Pastoral Letter About The Election
I just sent this to my congregation, and thought you might like to read it.
A Pastoral Note From Fr. Thomas, Regarding the Election
Dear brothers and sisters,
The presidential election is now over. This has been a horrible election season. The vitriol, the hatred, the lying ... it has been overwhelming. I've experienced divisive politics, but I've never seen anything like this.
But now we have a new President-elect. Some of you are pleased with the result. Your candidate won, or at least the other candidate lost. Some of you are not pleased, but wouldn't have been happy with either candidate (so you kind of knew this feeling was coming). Some of you are unhappy, but some are more than simply unhappy. You are confused, angry, and afraid.
Regardless of your political opinions, I hope that you'll step back for just a moment. Consider this: regardless of your feelings, there is a great deal of fear in our country right now. And a lot of that fear is resting on the marginalized: immigrants, Muslims, women, people of color, the disabled, etc. Whether these people are "right" to feel this way is beside the point. The reality is that they do feel this way. I have had members of our congregation already send me messages, telling me that they are afraid. They are afraid for themselves, but also for those they know and love.
Many people will blame the Church for their fear. I have seen it already, in a tweet directed at me just a couple of hours ago. Many of the folks who voted for our new President were self-identified evangelical Christians. Without the "evangelical vote," he would not have won. "Evangelical" is a term I use for myself, and perhaps you do, too. Folks are afraid, and they might see the Church as aligned with the source of that fear.
This is why I sent this tweet tonight: Now is the time for the Church to be the Church: to shelter the outcast, to defend the marginalized, to say "Do Not Be Afraid." This is always the role of the Church, and especially now. Look, we might have just elected the most generous, loving President in our history. I don't know, I certainly hope so! But, even if we did, there are those who desperately need to hear this message from the Church, and from you as a Christian.
So, in this post-election season, here are four admonitions to you.
First: Be not afraid (as the angels always say). Jesus is Lord. Always was, always has been, always will be. He is in charge, no matter how we might feel right now. Sure, feel your feelings. But know that God is on the throne. He's got this.
Second: Pray. Pray for our country. More specifically, pray for your neighbors, your friends, the people you see at the store and the gas station and at school. Pray especially for those who are afraid, the marginalized, and those who do not share your faith.
Third: Reach out. If you're happy with this election result, that's totally fine, of course! But be sensitive to those who aren't. This is a great chance for you to share your faith with those around you. To say "I'm a Christian, and I love and accept you." If you see someone being harmed or belittled, be the person who rises to defend them.
Fourth and finally, honor the leaders God has placed over us. You don't have to agree with them, but you do need to pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1-2). If they are successful, then they will be a blessing to everyone in our country. We want them to succeed in the good things that God has for our nation. And, if they do things that are unjust, the Church will deal with that when the time comes (as we, hopefully, always have).
I love and honor each of you, regardless of your political opinions. I deeply value the diversity we have in our congregation. If you are feeling fear, or joy, or hate, or whatever, and would like to talk and pray about that, I (along with your other pastors) are available to meet with you. Just let us know.
Our enemy is not in the White House, or in the car next to us. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12). So, "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9a)
May the Peace of Christ rest in you today,
Be not afraid.