‘And so we vote’

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

By Rev. Gary Cook

Elections are always messy and emotional. They engage our deepest hopes and fears.

They are too often more about personalities than principles. And they are too often covered by the media more as a sporting competition than as a search for what’s best for the country.

Nevertheless, elections – at their best — are our chance to decide the directions our country will move in — they are our chance to discern who will best represent what we see as God’s justice.  Under whose leadership will the poor be delivered, the land flourish, the people live in peace, the nations be blessed.

But, of course, this election is not “elections at their best.”  This one is about our political system, at its worst.  This one is about discontent, disaffection, distrust, and, too often, disgust. 

This election is a mess.

So what do we do?

Well. We pray.  “God help us!”

We summon the faith that this justice we seek is God’s justice; that God wants to give it to us; and God will continue to offer it to us.

We pray “God help us choose a president who will seek your justice.”

“God help us choose a president, under whose leadership

. . . All people – of all colors — will be judged righteously

. . . The poor will be delivered out of poverty

. . . The land will flourish – and flourish sustainably

. . . Peace will break out in our communities and world

. . . Oppression will be put to an end, so that there will be no more refugee families fleeing halfway around the world with their young children

. . . Cities wrecked by abandonment and violence will once again be full of thriving, hopeful life

And under whose leadership there will be . . .

. . . a peaceful international order in which our nation is perceived as a blessing to all the nations.

Even in our disillusionment, it is important that we express this longing –

To hold it up to God.

To hold it up for each other.

And finally, we remind ourselves that we hold a vote as a blessing entrusted to us by God.  What we do with that vote is as much an issue of stewardship as what we do with our money, or our time, or the earth that has been entrusted to our care.  We hold that vote as an opportunity — and as a responsibility — to choose leaders who will seek — welcome — embrace — pursue God’s justice above all else — above power, above personal gain, above political party. Not just a president, but members of congress, state legislators, city council members, and judges.  Not to use that vote would be to bury this gift from God in the ground, like the fearful servant in Jesus’ parable.

And so we vote.

And then, when the country has made its choice, whether we are happy or sad — we go back to David’s prayer.

“God, give our leaders your justice!”

And, then, we go back to work. . . trusting that God gives us that justice, too.

Rev. Gary Cook is the former director of church relations at Bread for the World. This blog post is an excerpt from a sermon, “Give Our Leaders Your Justice, O God,” he gave on Oct. 9 at Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY.

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