Monday, October 24, 2016

Guide the people of this land

 Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges:  
Guide the people of this land in the election of officials and representatives; that,
by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected
and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. 
-- Book of Common Prayer, p. 822

On November 8 we will again be called upon to exercise our civic duty of voting for the leaders of our nation, our states, and our local communities. It is a great privilege and responsibility to vote; one not available to all people around the globe. We give thanks for all those in our country’s history who have fought for our democratic right to vote, and for those who continue to work today to ensure that such freedoms continue.

Sadly this election season has taken on a tone that is not worthy of our country’s great democratic ideals. The political rancor and mean-spiritedness shown in the campaigns has too often resulted in distorted relationships in our families, in our communities, in our church, and in our nation. We are thus reminded of the words of the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer that speak of the sinfulness in our lives and in our world:

“Question: What is sin? Answer: Sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation.”(BCP p. 848)

How often have the sins of racism, classism, and sexism been used by candidates to alienate sectors of the electorate from each other in vain attempts to win votes? How often have we, as communities and as individuals, been like the Pharisee in last Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 18:11) criticizing those who favor a candidate not of our liking with characterizations that are unthinking, wrong-headed, unpatriotic, and even worse? Such is not the way of our nation. Such is not the way of God. We all need to repent for the sinfulness in this election season, seeking amendment of life and a return to wholeness with God and with each other as American citizens.

And when we are on our knees seeking forgiveness for how sin has crept into our hearts this election season, let us also turn to God and pray that these remaining weeks of the election season will be marked by a return to the civility, respect, and unity that has historically characterized our American political processes. Let us pray that Election Day will be free from violence and that due process will prevail. Let us pray that there will be a peaceful transition of power following the election. And above all, let us pray that those who have been elected to lead our nation, our states, and our communities will dedicate themselves to healing the divisions and hurts that have crept into our public life. Pray that God will bring us together in justice and in peace.

Our colleague bishops in the Episcopal Dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts, the Rt. Revs. Alan M. Gates, Gayle E. Harris and Douglas J Fisher, respectively, have called on all Episcopalians in Massachusetts to participate in a vigil of prayer for the election from noon on All Saints Sunday, Nov. 6 through noon on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8. We would like to do the same, calling all parishes and worshiping communities in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to a similar vigil. Such vigils could be as simple as a special closing prayer or litany on Sunday, November 6;  saying Morning, Noonday, and Evening Prayer on Monday November 7; or a continuous period of prayer with individuals and/or groups praying in shifts. Resources for prayer can be found on the EpiscopaliansVote website at: http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/EpiscopaliansVote and at Forward Movement’s “Season of Prayer for an Election” website at:  http://news.forwardmovement.org/2016/09/a-season-of-prayer-for-an-election/

We invite you to connect and share your ideas with ECCT by using our diocesan hashtag #ECCT and by tagging our diocesan Twitter account @EpiscopalCT. We would love to see what you and your parish or worshiping community are doing to prepare prayerfully for the election.

Finally, we urge you to exercise your right to vote on Election Day, November 8. We have a civic duty to participate in the political processes of our nation, our states, and our local communities. Please vote prayerfully.

Faithfully:

The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Ph.D.                        The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, D.Min.
Bishop Diocesan                                                      Bishop Suffragan       

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