Beloved in Christ,
Like many of you, I spent last evening watching the election returns and slowly adjusting to the reality of an event I had considered as a possibility, but not necessarily expected – the election of Donald Trump as the next president of our nation.
Now that twenty-four hours has passed and we’ve all had a little time to adjust to what God, in his providence, has ordained for this election, I wanted to write you with a few thoughts.
First, this has clearly been one of the more divisive elections in American history (though perhaps not the MOST divisive, consider the Thomas Jefferson – John Adams election of 1800, for example). This divisiveness and the way that has shaped the rhetoric on both sides is one of the most concerning aspects of this election season to me. There is a way to have strong political disagreements
Second, there is always a temptation in this kind of divisive environment to define ourselves primarily according to our personal political allegiances or sympathies. But the gospel calls us to a unity that is (far!) deeper than political connections. The reality is that in our congregation, some of us may have voted for Trump, some of us may have voted for Clinton, some of us may have voted for Johnson, or Stein, or McMullin, and some of us may have voted for no one at all. Which means that we almost certainly all experienced the events of last night in different ways. Some of us are likely encouraged and hopeful today, and some of us are likely frustrated, or even afraid. But despite the diversity of our votes and the range of our responses to this election, we have a unity with one another that transcends and overcomes all these differences. For we are not first of all Republicans, or Democrats, or Trump supporters or Clinton supporters, or Libertarians or Greens or even Americans — we are first Christians, bound together into one body, with Christ as our head. All other possible human allegiances pale in comparison.
Third, one of the potential dangers of our system of government (especially when it is experienced in combination with a twenty-four hour news cycle) is the way in which the act of voting, and the outcome of elections, can take on an sense of immense importance that overshadows everything else in our lives. Don’t be deceived. The events of Tuesday are important. But there are many events far more significant in God’s economy than the outcome of the American presidential election of 2016 — mostly seemingly small actions, like the unseen prayers we offer day by day, like the little choices we make, by the power of the Spirit, to love one another and welcome the stranger, like the way in which we gather, week by week, to worship and feast and proclaim the good news of the kingdom. These are the things that have primary eternal significance, these are the primary ways that God’s kingdom is advanced through Christian faithfulness, which is why the scriptures talk so much of them, and so little of what would fall into the modern category of political action.
Finally, whatever your perspective on the election of 2016, remember the fleeting nature of all of this. In four years, or eight, Donald Trump will no longer be president, and he will fall into the history books, and someone else, likely someone we haven’t even heard of or considered, will occupy that position. What happens after that is even less predictable. One hundred years from now, this year’s election will seem as distant as Woodrow Wilson’s does today. But in 2016, just as in 1916 and 2116 and whatever other future century we might imagine, there is one reality that is certain: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. And there is nothing to fear.
In the Peace of the Living Christ,