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Navigating Election Season with Grace and Hope: A Pastoral Reflection

Dear friends,

I feel dread when I think about the upcoming election. I wish I felt a surge of awe and gratitude. It is a privilege to live in a democracy. Women have had suffrage for only a century, and in many places throughout the world people still don’t have a say over their leaders and laws.

Yet politics has never felt quite so broken. It feels like a battle royal between worldviews that grow ever more divergent as political, cultural, and literal wars rage on.

I don’t want to succumb to the dread. Nor do I wish to jump into the fray. I have my political convictions, to be sure, and I will not relinquish my voice or my vote. But I intend to navigate these next few months with equanimity, kindness, and hope.

As a reminder, here are some things that might help us survive elections:

• Be kind. Remember that the people who believe differently than you do are not merely one-dimensional caricatures defined by their party affiliation.

• You’re probably not going to change anyone’s mind by arguing. It’s rarely wise to engage in political arguments on social media or around the dinner table. The temptation to dig in and fight back can be fierce, but do you really need to take on your college roommate’s second cousin on that Facebook thread or your Aunt Muriel over rhubarb pie?

• You might find yourself on a mountain you’re willing to die on. That’s well and good; there are times when silence feels uncomfortably like complicity. But there’s a difference between dying on that mountain and killing on that mountain. (See first bullet, above).

• Take regular sabbath from the news and social media. Just because those cable channels broadcast 24 hours a day doesn’t mean you need to tune in. Don’t hesitate to use the “unfollow” button.

• Give generously to organizations doing the kind of work that nudges the world toward how you think things should be.

• When you cannot bear to think about the candidates anymore, think about Americans like Dorothea Lange, Martin Luther King, Jr., Aretha Franklin, Maya Angelou, Johnny Cash, Simone Biles, Valarie Kaur, and Bryan Stevenson. Think about your third-grade teacher and the nurse who cared for you when you were sick. Think about the newly minted citizens with tears streaming down their cheeks as they take the Oath of Allegiance. Think about the men and women who serve our country.

Finally, friends: remember that this election is not all there is. Consider the lilies of the field. Consider art and poetry and marching bands and the glory of a midsummer thunderstorm. Remember the promise that God is at work in the world, that love wins, that in the fullness of time, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Remember that the sun will rise the day after the election, and the day after that.

In the words of a friend, “The world is still so far from God's dream. The church is still so far from Jesus' dream. But the Spirit is still making all things new.”

In Christ,

Pastor Katherine

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