The Northwest air was cold and damp this morning as I made my way to drop off our ballots at the post office. My breath visibly floated up as if a silent prayer that my errand this morning would somehow affect real change.
I was reflecting on all that seems to be at stake this election. It seems more than any single issue, democracy itself is on the line. Whether red, blue, purple, or some other hue entirely we all might be feeling as if the sky is falling. I think it’s fitting that these elections happen on the door step of our Advent season. Maybe what we are feeling is a bit closer to what so many were feeling as they waited for the Christ. Advent is the temporal space when our expectations are heavy. Our hearts ache at the injustice we see.
News networks inundate our homes with stories of our broken humanity at unprecedented speed. Social media further polarizes our friends and famililies. For us, living so far away creates real anxiety when we reconnect with old friends and churches. Will they still love us even if we say the wrong thing?
So, as I walk toward the post office my mind in full of concerns and questions. What is it that I am doing with my civic influence? Who am I voting for…myself, or others? Would Jesus vote? How would he vote? What if I get it wrong?
Most of Scripture was written during times when political power was out of reach. Scripture was written to people who couldn’t access the might of Rome, or Babylon. Jesus didn’t invent democracy. Maybe political power was never the goal. This must mean that we can accomplish God’s goals for our lives without political influence.
As my anxiety increases around the state of the world, I lean into the fact that nothing or no one on my ballot is the Christ, nor nothing or no one there is capable of thwarting the Messiah’s plans for the Church to thrive and prosper, to bring good news the poor, sight to the blind, and to set captives free.
As we cast our votes may we be guided by love and not controlled by fear. May we vote not for our wellbeing but the wellbeing of our neighbor, those who sleep on the street, those with accented speech, those with different shades of skin. When we vote may it be a small action done in great love. But most importantly may we not confuse our vote with our daily need to “put up and bear with one another,” (Col 3:13) even those who vote differently.
May we take to heart this advent greeting of heavenly beings.
“Do not be afraid!” [the angel] said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
God, we pray that we would be motivated by love and not fear, that we would display the Spirit’s fruit of kindness, generosity, patience, faith, peace, joy, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, as we vote, work, walk, and be in this world.