I’m writing this special edition of Words from Will before the conclusion of General Conference or the close of voting on the school referendum. By the time you read it, we will likely know the results (www.umc.org can fill you in on the UMC’s vote).
Like everyone who knows either is taking place, I have my thoughts about how I’d like things to turn out. However they turn out, though, these have been and will continue to be heavy days for some, if not all. Elections are like that. No matter how much consensus-building is attempted, by the end one “side” is successful and the other is not. Because these are subjects that affect us in very personal, spiritual, and communal ways, they’ve taken on even more weight. Whatever the results, there will be painfully disappointed and hurt people involved in both issues.
As followers of the one who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and “Love one another” and as those whose scripture and tradition teaches, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” there can be no jubilation about the vanquishing of those brothers and sisters who held a different position than you. Their hurt is your hurt, even if their opinion or desired outcome was not yours. With that in mind, I offer the following prayer…
A Prayer for the Day After Elections
We prayed, O God, before the elections. Some of us prayed for one outcome, some for another. We asked that your will be done, but confess we’re more likely to see it as having been done if it turned out the way we wanted it to. The results are now what they will be. Help us to live with them in ways that are faithful, which, history has shown, may mean taking up the cause again. We want peace in our spirits, our congregation, our community, our nation, our denomination, but not a peace born of resignation or of having vanquished the opposing point of view. We long for a peace that is not born of winners and losers, that does not include gloating or despair, but that remembers you, the Three-in-One God who chose community as your essence and created us in your image.
We pray for those who are hurt by the results of the elections, for those who aren’t sure they can live with them, for those who are thankful for the outcomes and want to move forward in positive ways, and for those who gave of themselves to study, pray, and engage honorably in the process and are now weary from their work. We pray for those whose work of sorting through what’s next has only begun. We pray for all who call Florence or The United Methodist Church or both home and for all who will and for all who may no longer so be able to do so. We pray holding on to that which wasn’t up for a vote: that your Spirit’s guidance in our lives, your mercy toward us, and your love for us will never end. Amen.