To my colleagues, friends, and siblings in Christ!
As another election ends, some of our neighbors rejoice and others mourn the results. Others are just happy that the ads and mailers will finally end and we can ‘get back to life as normal.’
But as an Evangelical Lutheran, called by the waters of my baptism to be in the world but not of the world, to be a proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am called to something else after the election, and I believe we all are as Church Together.
We are called to preach the Good News in a world that continues to be divided based on red and blue, rural and urban, rich and poor, white, black, or brown, and insider and outsider.
As the Church, the body of Christ, we cannot ignore the divisions that exist in our communities and allow them to continue to fester. We are called to help those who are in leadership to remember their call to servanthood. We are called to continue to dialogue and debate our friends and colleagues on these issues to find God’s voice, and lastly we must remember that regardless of election results - God still reigns over the world and our lives.
Regardless of what happened at the ballot box,
God is still with us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Regardless of the final vote tallies on Tuesday, God is still there for us and with us. God doesn’t promise us an easy path in democracy or that we will always make the right decisions. Gods promises us, through Jesus Christ, that God will be there with us through the thick and thin – through election night victories and election night defeats.
To be clear, elections have real impact on our lives and the lives of our neighbors,
but God remains above any and all temporal authorities.
I worked on my first ballot campaign my senior year in high school – a school levy. After multiple hours spent my senior year, we lost by about 100 votes in the February election. I was heartbroken. All the work we put into that campaign, we came up short. But God was still there to comfort me and gave me the strength to continue to advocate for what I believed in.
To those who feel as if they have ‘lost’ this election, may God’s comfort be with you. For those who claim victories, know that winning an election is the easy part.
God works through imperfect servants
…and whoever wishes to be first among you must be servant of all.
Jesus tells the Disciples that they must be servants to all if they seek to lead. Our electoral process is not about selecting somebody to be treated as a king, but choosing who will lead us by becoming servants. We must call on our newly elected officials to remember that they are servants for all - especially those who are most in need - the hungry, the sick, and the lonely.
As the Church, we are with those who are most in need everyday.
Our elected officials, whether Democrat or Republican,
whether we supported them or not, need our help in being a servant.
Offer your service to help them be a leader for all people.The Hunger Network in Ohio, as our State Advocacy Ministry, is here to help connect you to your elected officials to build a relationship so that we can help them. Invite them to coffee or to visit your congregational food pantry. They need your expertise to be effective.
In the early/mid 2000s, I was working on legislation that had bi-partisan support to help independently homeless youth access financial aid for college. In the end, both Jim Jordan and Dennis Kucinich signed on as co-sponsors! Regardless of your political allegiances, these two are on the far ends of their party - and they saw a common sense solution when homeless youth presented it to them.
We can help them serve.
The world needs the Church to proclaim God’s Ground
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets;
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Lutherans write extensively on God’s law. We know that we all fall short of the law, and therefore need God’s grace for salvation. But with full confidence in our salvation we can seek to live out the Spirit of all of the law - to love our neighbor. The law handed down by God was not limited to our own personal morality, but also designed to foster right relationship in society as a whole.
I encourage you all not to ignore the heated debates and arguments of the past few months on immigration, poverty, hunger, the environment, and much more - our congregations should embrace them responsibly and ask, what is God calling on us to do in our world today on this?
Discussion and debate, as people of faith,
is not about finding middle ground between left and right,
but discerning and proclaiming God’s Ground.
Elections can be stressful for candidates, staff, and individual who pour their heart and soul into campaigns as volunteers. Whether it is a Governor’s race or a local bond issue, these things matter.
We need to talk about these issues more not less.
Elections have consequences, and these are important issues that will impact our lives. Ohioans continue to disagree over fundamental questions about race, criminal justice, abortion, economics, the environment, and much more. But we are called to feed the hungry, love the stranger, care for the sick, and be a reflection of God’s love for the world. We can debate and disagree on how to do these things, that is what a democracy invites us to do, but God gave the Church a message. Let’s figure it out.
Whether you are rejoicing or mourning in this 2018 post-election reality, Christ is with you calling you to the next steps and asking how will we do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God?
In Christ’s Service,
Deacon Nick Bates
Director of the Hunger Network in Ohio
The State Public Policy Office of the ELCA serving Ohio