If your Facebook feed or your mailbox haven’t already clued you in, Election Day is quickly approaching. The midterm elections bring with them a renewed enthusiasm for partisan shoving matches and giddy mudslinging from both sides.
What strikes me in the last several turns of this electoral merry-go-round is the increasingly dire tone in the voices of opposition that imagine imminent apocalypses if so-and-so gets enough votes. Politicians may as well wear sandwich boards proclaiming the coming end. The way that campaign rhetoric has been ramped up, you would think we were in danger of a meteor strike.
Don’t mishear this. I’ll certainly cast a thoughtful ballot in this election and truly there is much at stake for our country and our world in deciding who is fit to lead us.
But the jittery language, especially from those who claim faith in God, is out of whack with reality. In the midst of ‘doomsday politics’, we read:
Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Oh, that’s right. We worship an almighty and everlasting God.
In times of recklessly flung superlatives, we can still rest assured that no one else would try to hang those adjectives on themselves. Something—in fact, someone—transcends the bickering and the muck and is at work governing all things both in heaven and on earth.
In praying this prayer, we pull our heads briefly from closed-door committees and shady backroom deals and recall that, as much bungling as there is in the microcosm of human governance, divine governance continues well in order.
In the face of politicians who seem increasingly aloof to the voice of the people, we are reminded that the God of the universe doesn’t have undergraduate interns working the phone banks. We are able to bring our supplications directly to his throne, appealing to his great mercy, of which we have firsthand experience. We are his people, and he always hears us.
The new politics of fear is really a politics of power. It presumes that ultimate authority is up for grabs to the highest bidder, the loudest shouter, the dirtiest dealer. We are made to feel afraid that dangerous people may end up sitting on God’s vacated throne. But our collect this week is just in time to bring us back to reality.
These are serious times and they call us to look and hear beyond the panicked clatter. In fact, once we’ve finally toned down the terror, we can do the work God has given us to do, hearing debate on issues that matter to the work of the kingdom and casting ballots based on prayerful consideration, not fearful reactivity.
There will be no perfect candidate who adheres to a perfect agenda. So, as the ballots are cast and our leaders are chosen, we still pray only and always for God’s peace in our time.
This week, let us give glory to God for his good governance, trusting him in faith, and joining in the work of his kingdom.
Kolby Kerr is an Anglican priest who serves as the Family Minister at Restoration Anglican Church in Richardson, Texas. He also contributes to the work of LeaderWorks, a nonprofit organization that provides leadership services to help church leaders do their work. He and his wife Emily live in Richardson with their two sons, Beckett and Samuel.