What’s been on my heart most recently has been compassion. The United States is deeply divided about politics right now; there are strongly held beliefs on both the red and blue sides.
My guess is that, if we polled people in the church, we would certainly find differences in opinion. No matter who is declared the next President of the U.S. there will be disappointment on behalf of those whose candidate didn’t win and celebration from those who found themselves voting for the winning candidate.
Both of those responses are natural reactions; however, how we choose to enact our feelings can certainly have an impact on the country. How does a Christian respond in a time of political division?
Jesus recognized shared humanity. During his lifetime and our lifetimes, people have chosen to draw boundaries that include some folks and exclude others. Jesus was a boundary breaker. He pointed people to their shared humanity and performed healing acts that returned outcasts to community.
Of all those people I’ve interacted with over the past year, I’m sure some leaned one way politically and some leaned a different way, but we often shared important values like integrity and compassion. When we begin to see people as individuals rather than as part of a group we don’t like, we may find important values that we share.
I hope during this election year those of us who are Christians can remember that Christ is at the center of our lives, repeatedly pointing us toward an inclusive and loving God. That’s something extremely important that we hold in common.
I believe it was Dr. Diana Butler Bass who discovered through some of her research that thriving churches include a diversity of red and blue congregants. The difference in these churches, however, was their ability to keep their eyes on Christ, remaining focused on where God was leading the church. One congregant remarked that her church was neither red nor blue, but purple, a blend of the two.
The Church’s liturgical color for Advent and Lent (seasons of preparation) is purple. As we move through the election and toward Advent, let’s keep our minds fixed on purple as a spiritual color that keeps reminding us of humanity’s unity in God’s love. Then may we become emissaries of that love, letting our words and actions reflect compassion, through the election and beyond.