Dear Grace Chicago members and friends.
The following is a letter from the consistory, a reflection on the presidential election. Given the raw emotions that many are feeling this week, we felt that it was important to say something, even knowing that it would be imperfect.
This week, even more than usual, I have felt the weight and the privilege of being a pastor and friend to all people, regardless of their political persuasion. Critical to a faithful presentation of the gospel is to recognize that the only political sovereign who will unite all people is Jesus, and to live as if that were true. When we gather around the communion table we make a picture of that truth. This week, in particular, I look forward to meeting each of you at that communion table, as we offer the true sign of hope to one another and to our broken world: communion in Christ.
Grace and Peace,
Dear Grace Chicago Community and Friends,
The peace of the Lord be with you!
This week’s presidential election results reflect the deep divisions and profound cynicism of the American public around issues related to our political culture.
“For the first time in surveys dating to 1992, majorities in both parties express not just unfavorable but very unfavorable views of the other party. And today, sizable shares…. <about half> …. of both Democrats and Republicans say the other party stirs feelings of not just frustration, but fear and anger.” (Pew Study: Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016, p.1)
Another research project found that: “‘Two- thirds of the American public (67%) have little to no confidence at all’ in the people who run our government to tell the truth to the public”; and found that “three out of four Americans (74%) agree that ‘you can’t believe much of what you hear from the mainstream media’.” (p.22, Vanishing Center of American Democracy, 2016 Survey of American Political Culture). Also, according to the same study: “the overwhelming majority of Americans (88%) believe that ‘political events these days seem more like theater or entertainment than like something to be taken seriously’.” (17)
For many of us, we aren't surprised by these kinds of statistics. We need not look beyond our own extended families to find painful anecdotes illustrating the drift towards tribal worldviews that are mutually exclusive, and profound cynicism about the political process and the media spectacle in relationship to truth.
At this time when our country is so divided and cynical, as a church community we have an opportunity to redouble our commitment to live into our mission statement*, as we continue to celebrate a union of a diverse group of people who have been called to love one another by the one true political sovereign, King Jesus. Together we continue to work out what it looks like to bring the ethics of Jesus' kingdom to bear on the public good, working out what it looks like to share Christ’s selfless love with a deeply broken world.
But surely part of what it means to see the world through Jesus’ eyes so soon after election day requires us to acknowledge in a non-partisan way that a great many people here and abroad feel afraid and uncertain; they are people who the Bible privileges in a unique way, the vulnerable and the marginalized. Throughout the Scriptures, aliens, orphans, widows, and the poor are symbols of God's unique advocacy for and identification with those who are at the mercy of the powerful. As the leadership of this Christian church, we want you to know that we are concerned for those in our church, in our country, and around the world, who today fear for their well being. May Grace Chicago Church be a welcoming place for the weak and vulnerable; may God bless us as we seek to live more fully into our mission.
We offer this prayer and invite you to join with us. It is based on a very old prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.
O Christ our King, whose glory is in all the world:
We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace.
Grant to the President of the United States, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve the people with humility, and in a way that treats all people with inherent dignity and worth, as those who bear your divine image.
May you enable us to seek the things that make for peace and the common good; may each of us reach out to those who are not like us and form bonds of unity where your Spirit make it possible; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
*The mission of Grace Chicago Church is to actively seek the good of individuals and the welfare of the city by embracing the good news of God’s redemptive promise.