Let’s pray for – then vote for – inclusive, tolerant candidates | Worship

By Rev. David Parks | Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Everett | Jul 19, 2017

Election season has arrived in our community. The yard signs touting candidates and initiatives crowd the street corners and vacant lots. Some have bright colors; some have endorsements. Some are names we recognize; some are unfamiliar.

I’m glad for the process. It’s encouraging to see fellow citizens aspire to public office and service in the community. It takes heart, energy and thick skin to put one’s self out there for all to see. God bless them all with integrity, intellect and a deep sense of what’s best for all our neighbors.

It’s not an easy time to run. The challenges are real. The seams that stitch together the fabric of the community are frayed. Bigotry, fear, blame and ignorance bubble just under the surface.

In 1790, George Washington wrote to members of a Jewish synagogue in Rhode Island. Framed in the language and sensibilities of his own Deism and the creedal Christianity of his day, he was compelled to make a statement that resonates today:

“It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.”

Those who seek elected office and the heavy weight of the stewardship of the public good are looking for a hard task. That kind of leadership requires discipline, devotion and a dogged determination to resist prejudice and smug self-righteousness.

Candidates for mayor’s office and seats on city councils will need more than leather on their shoes. They’ll need to have their eyes wide open to the needs, experiences, gifts and divinely gifted differences among their neighbors. They’ll need hearts big enough to love people very different from themselves.

We are Muslim, Christian, Jew, Sikh and more. Some have deep roots in religious practice. Some have no particular faith, at all. Elected leaders will need to understand and appreciate these differences, and embrace an ethic of inclusion, understanding and what Washington called “toleration.” We need each other.

What a grand vision for this nation in its early years and now again as it nears its 250th birthday: that ours will be a government and people that “gives bigotry no sanction and persecution no assistance.”

Elections bring out the best and sometimes the worst in us all. So, pray for those who run. Ask them about their values, talk to your neighbors and be ready to cast your ballot when Election Day comes Aug. 1.

God has created us in such a way that the responsibility of the well being of the community is on us all. God bless America.

 

David Parks is the lead pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Everett. The Lutheran church is at 215 Mukilteo Blvd. For more information, go to www.oslc-everett.com.

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