Dear NT-NL Leaders,
Election Day #2020 has come and gone. However, as was predicted, we still do not know the outcome of many close contests, including that of the office of President. In fact, as I write this early on November 4th, it is looking increasingly likely that the outcome will be contested and potentially wind up in the courts. We may not know who is declared winner for weeks to come.
What has been made known again to us are the deep divisions within our nation and our communities. Divisions that have long existed but once more are being revealed and deepened by this election season, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the continued growing of partisanship of our society. This impacts you as leaders in our church directly because the people who make up our NT-NL communities (including yourselves) are not immune from but in fact a part of this system. Recognizing that is critical; leading through it is even harder. To do so in this time, I offer three thoughts…
- To take seriously our sin, the reality of the self turned in on itself (Incurvatus in se), and to confess how often we seek our own way rather than listen to and focus on our neighbors’ needs.
- To pray for and actively support our civic officials and public servants. In conversation recently, a colleague related the intense stress their spouse, a county elections clerk, is experiencing in this time. 14-16 hour days have become the norm during this season, and all too often these officials are subject to verbal abuse and even threats of physical violence. We need to remember that good government is a gift from God and part of our “daily bread.” (see below)
- Finally, invite those in your community to see and listen to one another. Intentionally seek out those whose lived experiences are different from your own. Our 2020 Assembly Theme “Crossing Borders/Cruzando Fronteras” was about recognizing the unofficial and often unseen, yet all too real, barriers/borders in our communities. Barriers/Borders of race/economics/political ideology/geography/gender/sexuality that have been systemically erected and exploited to divide us from one another. Barriers/Borders that, as church, we are called to cross over when we come together and listen to different voices in our midst.
Doing these things is critical for our witness to our Christian faith in this time. If I rejoice in the result of an election, but my neighbor weeps, it is my Christian calling to listen to that neighbor with a heart open to understanding their real feelings, fears, and anxieties. A heart open to being changed, to seeing the world and potentially acting in a different way, all out of love for neighbor.
For two thousand years the church, the baptized people of God have born witness to power of what God has done in Jesus Christ. Nations/Empires have risen and fallen, but the proclamation of the good news has continued. As we move through these days in our nation’s life, know that you are in my prayers as you lead, that myself and my staff are here to assist you and your community, and that God, our refuge and strength, is with us.
Luther’s Small Catechism: The Lord’s Prayer, Fourth Petition
“Give us today our daily bread.”
What does this mean? In fact, God gives daily bread without our prayer, even to all evil people, but we ask in this prayer that God cause us to recognize what our daily bread is and to receive it with thanksgiving.
What then does “daily bread” mean? Everything included in the necessities and nourishment for our bodies, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.