By Father Casey
I’m writing this before the final presidential election results are known, but I want to encourage us all to remember that our responsibilities in days to come as Christians, as Episcopalians, and as the people of Transfiguration, will be the same, either way. As my friend, the Rev. Robert Hendrickson, recently wrote his church in Tucson, “The winding course of our nation’s history has taken one more step forward. Let’s take the next and the next after that with faith, hope, and love.”
So then, what do we do now?
First, we must keep praying. I know a lot of us were praying hard in the runup to the election – the anxious prayers of troops in foxholes waiting for an uncertain dawn. We hoped and worried and offered it all up to God, as we should. Now is not the time to stop. Prayer is not only how we bring our concerns to the Lord, it is also how God shapes our hearts and souls to become part of the answer to those concerns. There remains, in particular, a large cloud of suspicion and mistrust in our country, so we must keep praying for honesty, integrity, and justice to prevail.
Second, now is the time to find a few neighbors to whom we can show love. If we’re going to change the trajectory of this bitterly divided and angry nation, it will come through the slow accumulation of simple forms of compassion. Gloating over victory, or raging over losing, may feel temporarily cathartic, but we should ask ourselves if that is really honoring the primary commandment of God upon our lives. I’m not sure that yelling at the television or computer screen is how we will make it more on earth like it is in heaven. We have to use all that energy for the work of love, because loving like Jesus takes everything we’ve got.
Third, we need to remember the ones Jesus calls us to serve. The best way to move beyond our feelings of anxiety, helplessness, or pride is to invest our energies in the service of the vulnerable. The truth is that Jesus never told us who to vote for, but he does tell us who we are to use our lives serving: the poor, the abused, children, the lonely, prisoners. So, rather than reading one more analysis of the election, consider spending that time looking for a way to donate money or time to organizations that do the work of Christ. I realize the pandemic limits what is possible right now, but I promise there are always ways to help if you’re truly trying.
Fourth, we must remain committed to justice. The Church’s guiding principles have not changed, no matter who won the election. It is our duty to provide resources for the poor, and also promote policies that break down cycles of poverty. It is our responsibility to give temporary shelter to the homeless, and also patiently pursue permanent housing solutions. It is our job to treat all people as equal children of God, and also to peacefully combat systems of racism and prejudice. As we’ll hear this weekend from the prophet Amos, all our offerings to God mean nothing if we are turning a blind eye to the cruelty and injustice of the world – “but let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream (5:24).”
Finally, we need to remain hopeful. As Christians, we must always try to elevate our hopes beyond the identity of the one in the Oval Office. That person, whether we voted for them or not, is not the Savior of the world. They matter, of course, and we should pray for whomever holds that position, but Christian hope transcends these temporary circumstances. God’s love is still the root of all that is, and God’s love will ultimately have the last word. Do not let that belief be shaken. Hold fast to hope.
Friends, it comes down to remembering who we are: we are followers of Jesus. And followers of Jesus continue to have plenty to do, whatever the outcome of the election. Don’t let the confusion or cynicism of this strange moment affect you more than it must. Keep praying, loving, serving, and hoping, one day at a time, and God will keep leading us forward.