November 3, 2016
Dear Hyde Park Family,
You likely need no reminder that this Tuesday is Election Day. Local and national campaigns have saturated our airwaves and attention spans, and November 8 will feel like a welcome end to a long, grueling political season.
It is also clear that starting November 9, there is much healing that needs to take place in a country that has become bitterly divided. For some, these divisions have become personal, among close family and friends. And the bitter rhetoric coursing through social media reminds us that we are long removed from the days of civil debate and respectful dialogue.
I have been reflecting quite a bit lately on the word indivisible, found in our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance. That pledge was written in 1892 by a Baptist preacher and Christian socialist named Francis Bellamy, who grew up in the immediate wake of the Civil War. For Bellamy, the pledge was a recommitment to national unity, when a country that was far from indivisible labored to heal its deep fractures.
It would be well worth remembering the word indivisible again, and work to live up to its ideal.
To that end, I invite you to pray. Not just for the election this Tuesday, but for how we move forward together starting next Wednesday. I’ve drafted the following prayer which you might choose to use, either as the content of your own prayer or as a guide for your own meditation. I would also invite you to attend a special meditation service at The Portico this Tuesday, from 12:15 to 1 p.m., which will include Holy Communion, and a chance for us to pray together for the nation.
A PRAYER FOR ELECTION DAY AND THE HEALING OF THE NATION
O Sovereign God and Lord of All,
With humble gratitude we remember that every good and perfect gift comes from you, including the privilege of living in civic freedom. We know that such blessings are both secured by sacrifice and charged with responsibility. You call us to live in harmony with you and in reconciliation with one another.
We therefore confess to you our penchant toward division, building walls that separate us with rhetorical labels that confine us. We draw circles around those who are in and those who are out, and we inevitably draw those circles around ourselves. Through our words and even our mere perceptions, we have nurtured a political climate that has demonized others, poisoned our air and stifled the work of your Spirit within us. Empower us to reach across those divides, to see those with whom we disagree as fellow sojourners, that we might see your image within all people.
In the midst of such fearful and anxious times, we confess that we have projected onto our politicians a type of salvific power they were never meant to yield. We have turned to our leaders, our governments, our military might, and our economic capability for a kind of security, provision, and happiness that only you can provide. Remind us that our best future, in the words of the Psalmist, is not to trust in chariots and horses, but to trust in the name of the Lord our God.
We ask your blessing upon all those who will be elected. May their power be defined by a compassion and generosity that comes from humility. Fill them with wisdom born from curiosity and an openness to a diversity of people and ideas. Renew their commitment to a sense of justice shaped by love, that they might model the call of the prophet Micah: to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. And may you use the offices that they hold and the influence that they carry to bring about your kingdom on earth, as it has already been fulfilled in heaven.
Loving God, we thank you for the privilege of living in a free democracy, where we can exercise the right to vote and help determine our nation’s future. May the proceedings of this Tuesday’s election, and the consequences of its results, be conducted in a way suitable to an ordered and civil society, and may we join together in mutual respect for the perfection of our union.
May we, your church, strive in all things to be united as your body, that we may be an agent of healing for a bitterly divided time. May we be makers of peace, that the fruit of our witness may draw people to you, who is our truest and best source of life, liberty, and happiness in all its pursuits.
We are grateful to be your people, equal in your eyes, citizens of your kingdom, and residents of this country.
In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist