One of the tragic effects of the paralysis of our political polarization is that something close to half of the voters will have a serious case of post-election blues on Nov. 7. The opposing convictions behind this election are so strong, the passions are so intense, and the TV commercials have been so vitriolic that regardless of who wins and who loses, many of us will be disappointed and depressed by the outcome.
What's the cure? One option will be to hunker down in our ideological bunkers and continue tossing the hand grenades of distrust and political obstructionism that have prevented any meaningful movement toward resolving the major issues confronting our nation.
Another cure might be to climb out of the bunkers and acknowledge that the future welfare of our nation and world is in the hands of moderate people who will search for common ground and not in the hands of the ideological or theological extremists who refuse to compromise.
The biblical cure might be to try a little humility. It seems providential to me that the lectionary readings for next week include Psalm 146. Try reading this as you watch the election results come in.
Praise the Lord!
Let my whole being praise the Lord!
I will praise the Lord with all my life;
I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.
Don't trust leaders;
don't trust any human beings-
there's no saving help with them!
Their breath leaves them,
then they go back to the ground.
On that very same day, their plans die too.
The person whose help is the God of Jacob-
the person whose hope rests on the Lord their God-
is truly happy!
God: the maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
God: who is faithful forever,
who gives justice to people who are oppressed,
who gives bread to people who are starving!
The Lord: who frees prisoners
The Lord: who makes the blind see.
The Lord: who straightens up those who are bent low.
The Lord: who loves the righteous.
The Lord: who protects immigrants,
who helps orphans and widows,
but who makes the way of the wicked twist and turn!
The Lord will rule forever!
Zion, your God will rule from one generation to the next!
Praise the Lord!
It's not as if elected leaders aren't important. How we vote really matters. But the psalm reminds us of our common humanity and lifts our eyes to see the Lord who is the only source of genuine hope and happiness. It's a reminder that none of our leaders, nations or parties are eternal. The only thing that lasts forever is the kingdom of God. Our task is to live, work and vote in ways that are consistent with Jesus' vision of God's kingdom, coming on earth as it is in heaven. But only the Lord will rule forever.
Election Day Communion
That's the spirit in which we are joining congregations across the nation in "Election Day Communion." The Chapel will be open for prayer 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tuesday with staff members reading Scripture and leading in prayer on the hour. We will celebrate communion at 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. You're invited to come as you are able, to pray for our community, nation and world as we go to the polls. Our Bishop has written this "A Prayer for the National Election."
Almighty and gracious God:
You are the source of every blessing,
The judge of every nation
And the hope of earth and heaven:
We pray to you on the eve of this important national election.
Call to mind the best that is within us:
That we live under God,
That we are indivisible,
That out of many, we are one,
That liberty and justice extend to all.
We acknowledge the sin that runs through our history as a nation:
The displacement of native peoples,
the disregard for life,
And yet we profess a deep and abiding gratitude
for the goodness of ordinary people who have made sacrifices,
who have sought opportunities,
who have journeyed to this land as immigrants
and strengthened its promise in successive generations,
who have found freedom on these shores,
and defended this freedom at tremendous cost.
Be with us in the days that are near.
Remind us that your ways are not our ways,
that your power and might transcend every nation,
that you are not mocked.
Let those who follow your Son Jesus Christ be a peaceable people
in the midst of division.
Give us a passion for peace, justice and freedom
that breaks down walls of political partisanship.
Grant us wisdom,
grant us courage
for the facing of this hour
and the living of these days.
Amen. (Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr.)
Rev. Harnish is senior pastor at Hyde Park UMC.