Let us turn to God proclaiming: “I love, you, O Lord, my strength. . . In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. (Psalm 18:1, 6)
Bah humbug! How do we give thanks in this season of thanksgiving? As we wait with anxiety for the results of the US elections, words from the Psalmist, who fears that God has abandoned him to despair and anger, ring in my heart: “How long, O Lord?” The response is that we must remember that God is always with us; does not abandon us, and it is our task to look for God’s presence, even in the most difficult moments.
We are in a time of uncertainty about the 2020 elections and the future of our democracy. Having endured the negative campaigning, the uncertainty of peaceful polling locations, and the threat of violence in the aftermath of the elections, we now enter this in-between time of waiting and watching, hoping and praying.
In the E-lumination posted on October 13th, District Superintendent, Matt Ashley, proclaims a hope that we all have that peace will prevail in these days of watching and waiting leading up to the announcement of the winners of the 2020 elections. In the most recent issue of the E-lumination, I invited you to reflect daily on a prayer video that the Appointive Cabinet has created for such a time as this. May these things be a reminder that our trust is in God’s care for each of us, the peaceful transition out of the election season, and an entry into the future with commitment by all parties to work toward unity.
And, I am aware that there is more than just the United States elections that we must include in our thoughts and actions. As Christ-followers, we are called by God to be engaged in acts of kindness and compassion in the communities where we serve.
This week, your Council of Bishops is meeting virtually. We are addressing many topics of concern to United Methodists around the world. Our sisters and brothers outside the US are deeply concerned about our elections. But they also share about what is happening in their conferences. Hearing of the challenges that are being faced by my colleagues in Africa, Europe, and Asia is heart-rending. They tell of civil unrest with mass murders of innocent persons, including their UM laity and clergy. They describe the ravages of diseases such as Ebola and malaria, as well as COVID-19. Tragedies such as heavy rains and mudslides burying entire villages. And in the breath after their telling of the tragedies they face, they respond with a strong word of faith: through all this, we know that God is with us and we thank God for Jesus Christ.
It takes my breath away and touches my soul. Can we also have that strong faith? Of course we can! If we are persons who proclaim faith in God who says, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Will you join me in upholding our world and our nation in prayer in the days to come? Will you join with me for five minutes each day until we have the results of all the elections, from the President to the local leadership, announced and official. Will you join me in praying for the challenges and concerns of United Methodists throughout our connection? Will you add your heart and soul to this season of prayer and multiply the voices lifted to God?
Let this be our courageous word of thanksgiving for the creation God gives us; for the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ, and the company of the Holy Spirit emboldening us to care for others with love. As we turn to God and to one another in love, “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:8)
P.S. Since the latest E-lumination, an excellent statement was shared by the Nevadans for the Common Good. You will see some of our Nevada clergy, including District Superintendent Dan Morley are co-signers of the statement.