Like many congregations, the people I serve as pastor are of diverse opinions about politics . . . and many other subjects. After the election last week, I wrote this letter to the congregation, emphasizing our unity in baptism and in mission. It was distributed in worship on Sunday, as well as by e-mail . . .
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” – Romans 12:15
Dear Christ Lutheran family,
What a week, huh? We have experienced democracy in action and can certainly be thankful we live in a country where we have a voice in the leadership and direction of our government. On this Veterans Day weekend, we are reminded voting is among our freedoms that have been defended by those who have offered themselves in service to our country. Let us thank God together for their service, past and present.
The election results portend change in our government and its policies.
But the election changes nothing in our church.
Just as before the election, we are a congregation of Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, Independents, and those of other affiliations or no interest at all in politics. I believe that is a good thing. God does not fit in the box of any political party (or nation for that matter). The way a person votes – or doesn’t vote – doesn’t make them any more or less a Christian than anyone else.
We are stronger as a congregation because of the diversity of opinions about how to live out our faith. We can learn from each other.
But we must listen to each other, and otherwise put our love for one another into action.
In his explanation of the Eighth Commandment, Martin Luther writes that as Christians we are called to “speak well (of our neighbor) and to explain everything in the kindest way.” That is especially important regarding those with whom we disagree. What we must not do is impugn the motives – or the faith – of sisters and brothers who have come to different conclusions.
The Romans verse above encourages God’s people to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and to “mourn with those who mourn.” It is a call for empathy based in a desire to understand the feelings of those with different reactions to the election. Please be patient with those who mourn; grief is a process with no set time period.
The reality is that we are united not because of our politics or our nationality, or by our ethnicity or any other human construct. We are united at the Cross.
We are not Christians because of how we vote . . . or because of anything else we do.
We are Christians because of what God in Christ has done for us, a gift of life and salvation that became ours in the waters of baptism.
We are saved not by government but by grace.
Now, as before the election, we are God’s people in this place and time, called to Gather, Grow, and GO!  We have work to do together, living out our faith in ministries within – and especially outside – the church. No matter our opinions about the role of government, we the people of the church are called to joyful work like feeding the hungry, lifting up the poor, caring for and about the sick and imprisoned, and speaking up for those on the margins of society.
This week has evidenced some of the differences that exist among Christians, but has also given us the opportunity to be an example of how to live together – and minister together – not just acknowledging our diversity of opinions but celebrating the fact that we are united in Christ.
 Our church Mission Statement is, “Empowered by the Holy Spirit, We Gather, Grow, and GO!”