It's that time again.
The time when some of us start to feel a little anxious, a little unsettled. When everything feels like "us" vs. "them." When we sometimes feel like we're on opposing sides from people we call friends and neighbors. When it feels like we're more divided as a country and a community than ever.
It's election season, and this year, it's more polarizing than ever.
All you have to do is turn on the news, or scroll through Twitter or Facebook, or scan the headlines in the checkout aisle.
Some people get loud about their opinions, others get quiet. Some get angry, others feel uneasy, and many feel afraid. Some people put signs in their yards or stickers on their cars to let everyone know where they stand - constant visual reminders of the turmoil and conflict across our nation right now. Others keep their opinions to themselves to try to keep the peace with family, friends, and neighbors.
As much as we may feel forced to choose a side and as easy as it may be to surround ourselves with people who are like-minded, I believe we are called to something greater. Something harder and more challenging, yes, but also something much more rewarding.
We are called to love.
John Wesley wrote: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences.”
I know what you're thinking: It was a different time back then. And what does John Wesley know about living through a polarizing election like this one? What can he really teach us?
More than you might think. In October 1774, Wesley wrote this about an upcoming election:
“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”
Hard to believe these words were written almost 250 years ago, right? Challenging words of truth and grace.
Today, in the midst of anger and hatred and fear and division, may we work to be people of light. May we be seekers and speakers of the Truth. May we bring grace and peace to all whom we encounter (not just those who are like-minded). May we strive to love alike even though we may not think alike.
We come to you weary, tired of the chaos and conflict. We feel uncertain about our leaders, uncertain about those on the "other side," and uncertain about the future of our country. Today, we carry our fears and anxieties to you, we bring our anger and hurt, our frustration and doubt and lay it all at your feet.
Fill us with your light, remind us of your faithfulness, help us to be bearers of Truth in the world and messengers of peace and Good News. In the words of St. Francis:
"Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy."
Lead us, Lord. Lead us in the way of wisdom, grace, and love.
© 2016 Ashley Danyew
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