Yesterday, we all awoke to a new reality in our country – indeed in our world. The election that has consumed so much energy and time, and in a manner that was not at all reflective of our better selves, came to a conclusion. I know from many conversations that we have people in our synod, in our congregations and communities who are dismayed and afraid, we also have others who view the results positively.
In the words of my colleague, Bishop Alan Gates: “Our national election is behind us, leaving in its wake a legacy of bitterness and hostility. For some, alienation is the apparent reason for the election’s outcome; for others alienation is its result. In either case, we face grievous division and manifest anxiety.”
In light of these election results, I believe it is incumbent upon us all to view ourselves as agents of healing. We have wounds all across the spectrum, and I believe we need to address those wounds. I will be candid and say that I have more questions than answers.
How do we move forward? What do we do with all the language of vitriol, hatred, threats, lies, accusations, racial & sexual discrimination that have been hurled around? How do we address the economic anxiety that is very much a part of our country? What is the role of the church in these times? What is an appropriate prophetic voice for today? Where is God in our emotional and intellectual response? And others…
I offer some wisdom from a family member who works in the field of election campaigns going back to 1980. He writes: “Victory is never as revolutionary as one imagines. Defeat is never the Armageddon we fear. I’ve been there [on both sides over the years.] We have a constitutional system that will continue. … Yes there is a world of unknowns come January. But the policies that effect our lives will evolve with the traditional frustrating slowness of the legislative process.”
Finally, I offer this prayer as a tool for each of us to take an inventory of our own place in this time of evaluation and healing.
“God, our refuge and strength, you have bound us together in a common life. In all our conflict, help us to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, to listen for your voice amid competing claims, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” -Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Pastoral Care book, p. 386
Sincerely in Christ
Bishop James Hazelwood