Thursday, September 29, 2016

Adventures, October 2016 from the Quincy Quill

Though we can’t 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.  These remaining as they are, they may forward one another in love and in good works.  – John Wesley from his sermon, “A Catholic Spirit”

I must be very honest that I am coming to dislike election season more and more every four years.  It is hard to go a day without being bombarded by advertisements from candidates on both sides, mostly attacking one another and trying to undermine each other.  And social media is another story, as it seems like I cannot scroll down my Facebook or Twitter newsfeeds without seeing someone posting why we need to vote for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein.  But it is also seeing some of the comments from others that make me shake my head, hence why I do my best to refrain from posting political things.  As I mentioned in my sermon on September 11, a younger friend of mine makes a very prominent observation about the level of anger expressed in our conversations when it comes to politics, society, and anything where there seems to be more than one thought or opinion.  When did we as a society forget about respect for one another?  Did Jesus not say that we are to love one another, or more particularly, our neighbor as ourselves? 

While I do have my personal opinions and my own political leanings, I try my best not to let them dictate how I lead in ministry, unless it pertains to helping the poor, healing the sick, loving my neighbor, and trying to make our community, society, and world a better place.  More importantly, it’s more about loving my neighbor and trying to understand his/her perspective even if we may not agree.  It’s something I’ve worked on through the years, even though I still fail in that regard here and there.  But that’s also where grace comes into play.  Yet I still ask, how are we as a people of faith supposed to respond to all the ugliness that seems to happen more and more each election cycle?

The above article is from John Wesley’s sermon, “A Catholic Spirit,” which captures the essence of how ALL of us can work together regardless of where we stand politically or theologically.  Too often these days, it’s much easier just to tell someone they’re wrong and shout down someone who doesn’t agree, but this is not the essence of social holiness or loving our neighbor.  The fact is that we all need each other, whether we are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Green, or non-partisan.  We need to find places where we agree and take that common ground to work together and find ways to make our neighborhood, community, and world a better place.  We need to find ways to show love, even in spite of places we may disagree.

As we come into this final month before election day, instead of trying to argue with someone who may have a different viewpoint, I would like to invite everyone to instead engage with Dr. Amy Oden’s “2 Question” method:

1. First, how did you come to your view on _____________ (the president, health care, immigration, fill in the blank)?

2. Second, how is this political issue important in your life right now?[i]

It’s what Dr. Oden calls “Welcoming the Political Stranger,” but it also captures what John Wesley is trying to say that we can still love each other despite differences we may have in our politics or our ideology.  This method encourages active listening, but also dialogue instead of debate.  Coming into the election and even after the election, I encourage us to pray for each other, pray for our world and nation, pray for our community, and trust God in the entire process.  But I also encourage us to lift each other up, listen to each other, and look for common ground so that we can show what the love of God and neighbor looks like when we serve as the hands and feet of Christ outside the walls of our church and our homes. 

Peace & Blessings,
Andrew



[i] Amy Oden, “Welcoming the Political Stranger” in Alive Now, http://alivenow.upperroom.org/2013/01/18/welcoming-the-stranger/

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