I’ve spent a lot more time these days watching the news. I admit, I’ve gotten out of the habit of watching and relying mostly on reading lately. But now more than ever, in watching the events of the past few months, I find myself needing to reinvest in my civic duty AS a person of faith. Luther writes of our duty as people who live in community to follow civic law, and to take an interest in how we live in community together. One thing, perhaps, that this latest election has taught all Americans is that we still need to be engaged and not take our freedoms, our democracy, and our unity for granted.
Paul’s gospel calls for unity in diversity as a part of our faith. This can truly speak to us as a country and civic community as well. While many faiths are practiced freely in the US, we are still predominantly Christian. As such, we have a particular understanding of this call for working together as one body.
There are many people on the far left of politics, and many on the far right. I would surmise, though, that most of us are somewhere in the middle, and that we all have some significant desire for prosperity, hope and happiness. Even in our church, we have people from a whole variety of political views. When people can find common ground, we are able to work better together and the freedoms and liberties the Constitution stands for are the same that God desires for us. This is the common ground we can stand upon.
We are also able to work together well when we practice forgiveness and reconciliation. Our country needs this right now, and we as people of faith are in continuous need of this too. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Thus, it is important that we practice forgiveness and mercy with each other. As people of God, it is imperative that we pray not only for those we agree with, but for those we don’t. And not just that they “change their minds” but that we find our common ground, the reasons why we hold certain convictions, and hear each other for the gains that we both intend with those convictions.
We live in a time when we have a hard time listening and spend a great deal more time trying to jump ahead to argue our own point. But as people of faith, we must practice listening and learning from each other in order to work together.
As a pastor, I firmly believe in the separation of church and state. As a person of faith, I also firmly believe that my faith informs my civic duty in a large number of ways, covering a wide range of issues. This is why, perhaps politics does not belong in the pulpit...the gospel belongs in the pulpit...but the discussion of political issues is for sure an important duty for people of faith. Our faith informs us to work together and to reconcile differences. That’s what our country needs right now, and we have the tools to help make that happen.
There is much to heal in our nation right now. As we watch another peaceful transfer of power, may we be reminded that it didn’t come lightly. Men and women have fought for that peace. And Christ died for our ultimate peace. It’s hard work to maintain peace without forgetting what unrest feels like. The events of the past few weeks have been a reminder. Our weekly confession is a reminder as well. We all want peace and reconciliation, and therefore it does take ALL of us to maintain it. Moving forward into this year 2021, I pray and encourage our whole church to pray that we hear each other more clearly, truly work together for the good of all, and realize when we need to confess our wrongs. As a church, we can continue this hard work together. This is my prayer for Grace, Bandera today.