Saint Mark’s Cathedral, Mpls
TVR Paul J. Lebens-Englund
Friday, 10.30.20

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of our public officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Book of Common Prayer

Dear Saint Markans,

With great hope and expectations, we arrive, with the rest of the nation, to election week – always a time in which our greatest aspirations and deepest fears are intermingled amidst the uncertainty of outcomes. Will we be delighted or disappointed?

As with every election, I anticipate a mixed review. We will no doubt find signs of Gospel values on the rise, and we will no doubt find signs of Imperial values digging in to resist. It’s the dialectical nature of things. ‘Progress’ is never linear. So, as ‘progressive Christians,’ who actively cheerlead and champion the slow ‘progression’ of the world’s bending toward justice, we’re spiritually equipped to navigate the emotional and political landscape inherent to our ‘two steps forward, one step back’ reality. The ‘Love’ we practice and proclaim is creative, strong, and resilient – it’s the catalyst in God’s ‘action, reaction’ engagement with the world. This ‘Love’ does not always come out ‘on top,’ but it always persists, always resists, always ‘wins,’ in the end.

As Dr. Cornell West says so beautifully:
Probably the most morally sublime feature of the species, is that no matter how pervasive the domination is, it tends not to completely suffocate love, tenderness, struggles for justice, fighting for the poor, fighting for the vulnerable – the sparks of love of Truth – the sparks of the love of Justice – the sparks of the love of Beauty – the sparks of the love of something bigger than oneself…

As we approach the elections on Tuesday, November 3rd, it’s important that we do so faithfully, realistically.

As to faith, the Way of Jesus reminds us that we cannot love our God, whom we cannot see, if we do not love our neighbor, whom we can see. We go to the polls, first and foremost, then, as defenders of human dignity – not merely as a theoretical ‘end’ on the far side of draconian public policy, but as a ‘Good and godly means,’ which is, of course, its OWN end – making real and concrete in the ‘present’ what we’re promised in the ‘future.’

As to reality, we must be sufficiently honest about ourselves and our world to admit that, no matter the outcome of Tuesday’s elections, we are neither as ‘good’ nor as ‘bad’ as the results may indicate, regardless of your desired outcome. The sins that have befallen us since our founding will not instantly evaporate on Wednesday, nor will the strength that has sustained us since our founding instantly crumble. There will be lots of work to do to heal this nation and to right our course, no matter what.

So, please, exercise the precious gift of voting in this election, and do so with your faith-formed conscience, remembering your voting decisions play a large part – though certainly not the only part – in whether God’s justice flows more freely and visibly among us or not.

As ‘repairers of the breach,’ remember that our primary witness is not to a particular party, but to the transformative and unifying power of God’s Love, enfleshed in Jesus – a Love that is at once strong and tender, a Love that is at once convicting and merciful, a Love that is at once against the forces of Death and for the flourishing of Life.

As you’re able, please join me in holding this community and our nation – and particularly the most vulnerable among us – in your prayers throughout the next many days. And may God bless you, and the world through you, as you discern and decide who best to lead us in these pivotal years ahead.

Grace & Peace,

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Book of Common Prayer

The Very Rev. Paul J. Lebens-Englund, Pre-Election Sermon: ‘Which command is the greatest?’
The Episcopal Church, General Resources
The Episcopal Church, Prayer Vigil on Sunday, 11.1
The Episcopal Church in Minnesota, Election Day Prayer Resources
*You may also watch Saint Mark’s digital platforms for links to all of the above.