Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Post Election Prayer

It was the Sunday after the election many years ago.  I was worshipping at with my congregation that morning and the mood was not happy.  Much of the congregation had voted for the other guy – the candidate who was defeated.  They were sure that the winning candidate would ruin our country, economically, morally, socially. 

The prelude ended and the pastor began the announcements by saying, “I know that many of you are unhappy with the outcome of the election.  I know that you are afraid of how this president will lead us.  I want to start this morning by telling you the Christian response to this election.”
We waited, most expecting him to denounce the president-elect. And I have never forgotten what he 

“Pray for this president.”

“Pray that God will guide his decisions and give him wisdom.  Pray that all of our leaders will lead us wisely.  I know that many of you will have trouble with this.  But this is the Christian response, the Biblical response.  Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”  And if you still have trouble praying for this president, remember that Jesus said to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).”

Then he led us in a prayer.

As I write this, I don’t know the outcome of the election.  I do know that there will be people who are excited by the outcome and filled with hope, and there will be people who fear what the newly elected candidate will do once in office.  What I do know is this:  as Christians, our response is clear.  We are to pray for God to give our leaders wisdom to lead us in paths of justice and righteousness.  And if that’s hard for you with this president elect, think about this:  those leaders and governments Paul was telling his readers to pray for   - that was the Roman emperor and the hated Roman Empire, whose abuses of power often meant the persecution of Christians, whose Pax Romana was maintained though conquest and oppression.  If the early Christians could pray for their persecutors, how much more can we pray for our country, which we love, and for our leaders, whatever we might think of them?

This election has been soul-wearying in so many ways.  And the atmosphere of fear and division has not dissipated just because votes were cast.  Jesus begins the sermon in which he tells us to love our enemies with the Beatitudes.  We are called to be peacemakers, to comfort those who mourn, to be merciful.  We begin our work by praying:

Creator and Keeper of All:

We pray for ourselves 
            that Your love would soften our own hearts 
            so we may be the salt and light 
            our country and this world so desperately needs.  

We pray for our divisions to be healed.  

We pray for Your holy wisdom 
            to inspire and guide our leaders.  

We pray for Your reign to come, 
             and You will to be done
             in our lives, 
             in our congregations, 
             in our communities,
             in our country, 
             in the world.

We pray this no matter who is President, 
             for we put our trust in You.

We pray this always.

We pray in hope and in fear

We pray in faith of your love for us and the world.

We pray

Monday, November 7, 2016

Put Not Your Trust in Mortals A Pre-Election Reminder

I don’t know about you, but I am totally sick of the election season.  And I will be lifting up a prayer of thanksgiving on tomorrow morning, because it’s finally over!

But we know that just because the election may be over, it’s not really over.  No matter who wins or loses, the hard work of governing this nation is ahead of them.  It’s a tough job, one made even harder by the partisan divide our country is embroiled in, and by the ugly words said during the campaign.  Words that have deepened our divisions and pitted groups against each other.  

We who are called to be peacemakers have our work cut out for us! How do we vote faithfully? 

I have a few words of advice for you before you go to the polls:

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.

It seems to me that this Psalm has it right – don’t trust in mortals, trust in God.  We put a lot of stock in who we elect to govern us, to fix this country’s problems, to lead us in the right path – maybe we put too much stock in what they can do.  After all, the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (also from the Psalms).

That doesn’t mean it’s not important to choose good leaders.  Pray about your vote, pray about the election, pray for the candidates (no matter what their party!).  Pray about your hopes and fears for the future.  Turn it all over to the One who reigns forever.

Whatever your fears and hopes, whoever you plan on voting for, remember that in the end, God is in control.  Which is the very best news I’ve heard all election season!