This morning I spent a chilly hour and a half in a line that wound all the way around a local elementary school building. While the wind was bracing, the sun was shining and the spirit in the crowd was high. People carried their bundled-up toddlers and hung on tightly to their dogs’ leashes. Conversations between strangers sprouted up all along the line. We were all waiting to vote.
In my particular jurisdiction there are no races really up for grabs; the outcome of the election will not be different because I voted. Why did I do it, then? I did it because it’s my civic duty, as I learned in eight grade. I did it because I believe in the people for whom I voted. I did it because I want my children to see me voting and know it’s important. I did it because I believe in the power of working together for a greater good.
As I stood in that interminably long line, I had time to reflect a little bit. Today is a good reminder that there really are people who care about something bigger than themselves. There are folks who will brave the uncomfortable to do the right thing. In a cynical world where these little pockets of people seem few and far between, the reminder was soul-heartening.
I couldn’t help making the connection between some of us who hope for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. Some days it seems so far away. But I’ll bet there are a lot of people willing to stand in line to make it happen. I know a lot of you who would. And I am grateful.
Here’s a prayer for today, portions of which we heard in worship Sunday, written by Bob Baird, member at Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas:
O God, the election is upon us. As a nation it is decision time, and probably most of us don’t know how to pray either as a community or as individuals. It’s not cynicism so much, though no doubt some of us succumb to that, forgive us.
But our dilemma is that as a community at worship we have so many different views. You know that. So how do we pray as a community?
Even as individuals it feels wrong to pray that our candidate will win as if our prayer could cause you to determine who will be the next president or representative or judge. If anything seems clear in our world, O God, it is that you have left those decisions in our hands. And maybe that’s why it’s a frightening prospect, for so often we don’t get it right—even when life and death are at stake.
What do you require of us, O God? Surely, that we act justly, that we love kindness, that we walk humbly with you. We know the words, but do we know the way? That’s our problem—figuring out the way. So what can we pray for? Enlightened minds in the face of so many complications? O God, we do pray for that! For tender hearts in the midst of suffering that has national scope? O God, we do pray for such hearts! For faith that, despite the way things often appear, goodness is at the heart of reality, that you are at the heart of reality. O God, we do pray for that!
For by faith we believe that the future is open, that the future is your gift to us. Help us to seize it and to live it “finely aware and richly responsible.” May the enlightenment, the tenderness and the faith we pray for guide us as individuals and as a nation in a time of great decision.
In the spirit of Christ whom we adore, Christ who is our model, in the spirit of Christ who redeems all the messes we make and gives us our future, we make our prayer.