“…strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being…”
The Book of Common Prayer, p. 305
Dear Members of St. Martin’s,
The last few weeks, perhaps the last few months, have been very taxing upon all of us. I am not thinking of the pandemic, I am thinking of our elections. While there may be some challenges to the outcome of the 2020 elections, it appears many chapters are closing and many are opening. Regardless of your political party or if you have no allegiance to a political party, we are always invited as Jesus’ disciples–as our baptismal covenant invites us–“to respect the dignity of every human being.”
Over the days, I have been struck by how many people have spoken of a “divided America,” given that the vote tallies in the Presidential election were close. Actually, my own thinking is not that we are a divided America, but just that, well, “this is” America. Wherever the percentages fall, however the vote totals tally up, whether we feel to be on a winning side or a losing side, we are all part of this nation. In this moment, once again we are reminded, as our forbears had dreamt, that we remain a nation of differing people, languages, races, religions, persuasions, beliefs and opinions. What “began” our nation was a dream for authentic freedom on behalf of those fleeing tyranny. The great American hope is that somehow, despite all of our differences, we can honor the gift of being “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
There has also been a lot of talk from those who hold the microphone about red states and blue states, them and us, enemy and ally, even good and evil. If you have found yourself being tugged to think of America this way, maybe it is time to reboot your internal operating system. Just this weekend, I reached out to a fellow who lives in Pennsylvania. He and his wife have been watching St. Martin’s “on line,” and we have become their “virtual church” during the pandemic. He told me that his daughter, while driving along a road last week, saw a billboard that read, “America’s Only Hope: Not the Donkey or the Elephant, but the Lamb.” Can I have an “Amen?”
We need to earnestly pray that those who are, or who will eventually be, elected will help us live more into our American hope. However, you know, as followers of Jesus, we need to do our part. Toward that end, I am going to invite you to share a pledge. My friend, the Dean of our own Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Reverend Barkley Thompson, shared this with the members he serves before the election. He borrowed it from the Very Rev. Anne Maxwell, Dean of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi. Now that the election is over, I am going to adapt it just a bit.
As the days past Nov. 3 continue to unfold, I am going to commit to taking this pledge myself and I would encourage you to consider it as well. It would be one way of doing our part to “fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues,” from “A Prayer for our Country.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 820) I will take this pledge and I encourage you to consider taking it too. It is steeped in the Gospel and is certainly worthy of consideration.
A Pledge for the Days Ahead
As a person of faith committed to the life and teachings of Jesus, I make this pledge to all people regardless of their political beliefs, whether we are in agreement or disagreement, and regardless of who won the recent elections.
With respect to my words and actions, whether in person or through social media, I pledge and commit myself, in the days ahead:
To love others as Jesus has loved me (John 13:34);
To treat others as I would want them to treat me (Luke 6:31);
To love my enemies, do good to those who hate me, bless those who curse me and pray for those who abuse me (Luke 6:27-28);
To “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ;” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 305) and
To “strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 305)
This I pledge in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.