Think it can’t be done?

The people of the United States are bitterly divided. The rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle is out of control and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by false-news, group-think, and the general meanness of it all. With mid-term elections coming soon, I expect the tension will only increase.

It is sad to note that Christians are not doing a good job in these times of division. John Buchanan, editor of Christian Century wrote, “Christians owe one another more than basic civility, because we operate under the mandate to love one another with enough visible authenticity that the world will be attracted to the faith we profess. What the world sees of the way Christian disagrees . . . is far from impressive, and sometimes repulsive. It must make Jesus weep’ (“Editor’s Desk” in The Christian Century november 13, 2013)

It doesn’t have to be that way. It must not be and it won’t be if we put Jesus first.

Christians are called to show by word and example how people who disagree can still genuinely love one another. How can we do that?

We are entitled to have political opinions, to voice them, and to challenge them by thoughtful reflection. Ask yourself: Where does your opinion match up with Scripture or the teachings of the Church? How does Jesus inform it? Be humble enough to change your mind to match your faith.

We know that people with a different opinion are still not our enemy. They aren’t stupid, heartless, or evil. Their politics don’t change the fact that they were created in the image of God and are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are people of prayer and we pray for our country and her elected officials (whether we voted for them or not) and for all who are running for office. We must continue to pray for our society, our military, our media, our immigrants, our economy, the poor, the imprisoned, and all who steer the country in terms of values. When it’s hard to find the right words, we can count on the Book of Common Prayer; the Prayers for National life begin on page 820.

We can blame social media, we can blame television, we can blame one side or the other for the the decline of civil discourse in America. We can curse the darkness until we are blue in the face, or we can light a small candle as we continue to follow Jesus in the world. We can be a community where people disagree with one another on a number of issues, and yet still show love to one another. A place where differences are not ignored but acknowledged as gifts and where we gather together not in spite of but because of them, because of the opportunity they offer for growth and transformation.

Remember: we are the light of the world; let’s make our light shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. (loosely from Matthew 5:16b)

Take a minute to check out the tale of a “purple parish” in Minnesota. A link to this great story:

‘Purple’ parish in Minnesota builds paths to compassionate political dialogue