Faith Column: Think, pray, give thanks
As I write this, the election results have been published. Perhaps you are excited, pleased with the results. Perhaps you are less than pleased. Perhaps, because of the color of your skin, your gender expression, whom you love or where your parents were born, you no longer feel secure in your own land. Every election produces this mix of emotions.
This one has been especially fraught with ranting words, accusations and counter-accusations. At times, people have even threatened revolution.
There is part of me that wants to preach about this election and what it means for our country. But the honest truth — I don’t know what it means. I cannot tell you whether or not we will be in better shape four years from now or worse. I cannot tell you if liberties will increase or decrease. I do not know if national security or the economy will be stronger or weaker.
Promises have been made by the various candidates, who now wait for the new year and their swearing-in. Some of those promises, they will keep, some of them, they will break. Some were never meant to be kept. Others were made in good faith, but circumstances and political conditions will make them impossible to keep.
This constitutional gap between election and taking office is also a providential one. On Nov. 20, Christians in liturgical churches will celebrate the last Sunday of the Christian year. We call it by various names, but the purpose of that Sunday is to remind us that Christ is sovereign over all creation, all times, all spaces and all governments, whether we recognize the fact or not. Later that week, President Obama will declare a national day of Thanksgiving, a time for taking stock, of counting blessings and praying for mercy. We will eat too much, watch too much television and pause for a moment to sit with family and friends or call them on the phone. The following Sunday begins the season of Advent, marked by the penitential purple or the blue of the grace of God. Though largely forgotten, this period is one of fasting and preparation as we look for the birth of Jesus both two thousand years ago in a stable in Palestine and in our hearts this day.
We live in a time and a place between what was and what will be. We are offered this two-month pause to give what has happened over to God. Regardless of what we think of that outcome, God calls us to a period of prayer, of feasting and of fasting. And we ought to include prayers for the nation throughout this season.
If you don’t know what to pray, maybe the words of President Woodrow Wilson on the eve of another hard-fought election, will help you form the prayer. He begins with these words: “forgive, we pray, our shortcomings as a nation,” continues with prayers for wisdom and steadfastness, and ends with hope for the future. “Bring us at last,” he prays, “to the fair city of peace, whose foundations are mercy, justice, and goodwill and whose builder and maker you are.”
Rev. Deana Armstrong, First Congregational Church in CraigRev. Deana Armstrong, First Congregational Church in CraigRev. Deana Armstrong, First Congregational Church in Craig
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