Hi Youth of First Lutheran,
Please read this – it is very important.
As I write this we are 5 days from Election Day and it feels like America is the farthest it has ever been from being united. Many of us are triggered by the things we hear from social media and news outlets and are feeling upset. If you are feeling that way too, I want you to know that I care so much for kids living in this time and I hope these next few words will be of help for you.
Many of you might be feeling anxious, you have a voice and opinions about the country and yet you are not yet allowed to vote. That can feel very discouraging, but right now we need your voices more than ever. Regardless of where you would have voted in this election, our loyalty to Christ always comes first. Just as Jesus walked with the children, the sick, and the outcasts of his society, he walks with those that feel invisible and silenced in this society and calls his followers to do the same. Jesus taught us that no one is to be overlooked and the care of the entire community is in our hands.
Christians (and even Old Testament Jewish believers) have long struggled with governments and leaderships. I’m not talking about the Egyptians holding the Israelites as slaves before they were taken out into the wilderness and the promised land by Moses, although that was a hard time for the Jewish people. I’m instead talking about the kings of the Old Testament, people that were flawed and made mistakes just like us. Even in a kingdom that should have been ruled by good kings and queens following God, they still messed up. Why? Because they forgot that God was supposed to be the ultimate king. Then zoom many many many years later and you have Jesus saying the same thing. Anytime he is tested about how to be good citizens in Israel, he responds with something along the lines of “do what you have to do: pay taxes, follow civil laws, but don’t forget who your real leader is.” Then in the early church, after Jesus had died, his disciples tried to follow those same rules. They didn’t focus on government leadership, they instead focused on feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and telling people about Jesus.
Throughout history Christians have been trying to follow the rules of separation of church and state, to help them to remain both good citizens and good Christians no matter who was ruling the kingdoms and countries they lived in. And remember most of these people never got to choose their rulers at all, they just had to obey them! We are so lucky that when we do reach 18 years old, we get a vote in how our country is run! Our Christian faith doesn’t change after this election, we are still called to Love God with all our soul, with all our heart, and with all our strength and Love Our Neighbor as ourselves. We are also called to care for God’s creation. Jesus doesn’t want us divided, God wants us united working toward God’s kingdom.
So, if you are feeling anxious about the upcoming election, like I am, then try to rest in the idea that God is not surprised by this election or any election for that matter. Please hear that: you can rest and be at peace. There is a larger plan at work for God and God’s kingdom on earth. In the midst of that plan we are given free will and we must actively pursue the care of all creatures and people. These thoughts give me some peace in this conflict-ridden time, but what really helps is to walk away from the
craziness of social media and news outlets and be with real people that I care for and need me in this pandemic. Who can you reach out to?
I hope this letter helps you to see that you are only the most recent generation that has felt fear about changes in power, felt longing for a better world, and tried to walk the fine line between being a good citizen and being a good Christian. Just like Christians before you, I encourage you to seek out fellow believers and keep working toward God’s Kingdom because that’s the only power that matters.
May God be with all our elected officials, both recently elected and those returning for another term. May we always remember who is really in power and the world that God called us to create. Remind us always to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, look after our sick and visit the imprisoned (Matthew 25: 31-46). Calm our fears and return us to right community with one another. It is in Jesus’s power and name that we pray, AMEN!
Minister of Faith Formation