Sharon's Blog

A word about the U.S. elections

I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
Ps 3:5 (NRSV)

As we awake to this day after the election, some things have not changed. Whether we are rejoicing or we are feeling stunned and disappointed, the Gospel still calls us to love God first of all with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. It calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), where the hero is the racial, religious minority, Jesus reminds us that our neighbor is the one, next door or around the world, who shows mercy. Jesus calls us to show mercy and to receive mercy. Jesus calls us to “love one another.” (John 13:34)

The Gospel does not change with an election; what the Gospel requires of us does not change. Jesus’ first inaugural address began with these words, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…” (Luke 4:18) God, now and always, is on the side of the poor, and we who follow Jesus must be also. No matter who is in charge of our governments, we are charged with loving God and loving neighbor, even in costly, self-sacrificial ways. We are called to be loyal to the reign of God.

American Disciples, as part of a movement for wholeness, will no doubt struggle to regain our footing with each other in these immediate days. This was a bitter, divisive campaign. The echoes will continue to reverberate for a while. To those who are rejoicing, we recall “… but (if I) have not love, I gain nothing.” (I Cor. 13:3.) To those who are fearful this day: “Perfect love drives out fear.” (I John 4:18)

On this day, our job as disciples of Christ, is still the same as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow – to proclaim by what we say and what we do that God is a God of love, and we are people of love – for all God’s children. Our call is to work together for the common good, to welcome all to the table, people of all races, ages, gender identities, abilities, religions, and yes, politics, and to find ways to work together to extend to each other – across the whole human family – the abundance of a generous God.

No matter who won the election, this morning we Disciples were still going to be, and still are, a pro-reconciling/ anti-racist church. We are still a church that works tirelessly, led by Disciples women (clergy and lay), to end human trafficking. We are still a church that welcomes more refugees and immigrants than almost any other compared to our size. We are still a church seeking to offer grace and welcome to LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We are still a church that learns from and shares with Christian and interfaith partners around the globe. We are still a church that seeks to walk lightly on this earth, knowing that “all of creation waits for revealing of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:19). This morning we are still a movement for wholeness, seeking a community where nothing is broken and no one is missing, seeking to receive God’s gift of oneness already given to us in the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. We are still a church seeking to be diverse but not divided in Christ, striving to be one in our love of God and our visible love for each other. We are still a church that will gather together at the Lord’s Table this Sunday celebrating our unity in Christ. And we are still a church, no matter what political affiliations we have, that will pray together each week, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” And we will join our hands and hearts to make it so.

46 Responses to “A word about the U.S. elections”

  1. Totally agree!! Our call does not change. God is: love, merciful, faithful, UNCHANGING! Regardless of events – natural disasters, personal crises, anything, we put our faith where it should ALWAYS be – as Rick posted, Psalm 139!!!

  2. Mary Robison:

    Thank you for your words today! I needed to read them and be reassured of my God and my church!
    Blessings to all!
    Mary

  3. Julie Robinson:

    Thank you Sharon. Well said.

  4. Sarah Richey:

    I absolutely affirm this statement. We are “essentially, intentionally , and constitutionally one…” No election can change that.

  5. Lucy riffle:

    Amen.

  6. Helen Hahn:

    Thank you for article. i was down a little after election results and your article helped me
    remember that the love God shows us is the most impotant thing!Thank you!

  7. Certainly these are wise words regarding our identity as The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and a scriptural framework for our response as a denomination.

    However the very real elements of personal emotion, other then being chastised for its extremes, is not ministered to. Our GMP certainly has many qualifications and gifts. Her letter, here, will be seen by some as more academic than compassionate, and about a solution that does not fairly understand the problem.

    Can’t we stop the bleeding before we start fixing its cause?

  8. T.Perales:

    Your scripture quote is a big part of the ptoblem.
    To those who are rejoicing, we recall “… but (if I) have not love, I gain nothing.” (I Cor. 13:3.) To those who are fearful this day: “Perfect love drives out fear.” (I John 4:18)

    You assume that those who voted for Trump are without love for others and those who voted for Hillary are all about loving others.

    You’re unfounded judgment of others is a big part of the devisiveness in this world!

    Only God knows the heart of others.

    • Leah Bond:

      There are those who infer that which was not implied.

    • Richard Ortiz:

      “You will know them by their fruit.” When a group of “Christians” call for the executions of gay people, the deportation of immigrants, etc., God is not in their hearts. Read the plaque on the Statue of Liberty…..That is what christianity is all about. Not what the “Christian” leaders of the Conservative Right are espousing. Read the teachings of the most glorious Jesus Christ. He never once taught or preached what the “Christians” of the Conservative Right are preaching. The Bible teaches that in the end times, there will be many who CLAIM to be working for the Lord but are, in fact, doing the work of Satan. Hatred and prejudice are not the work of our Lord, but the hand tools of the Dark One.

  9. Gail Coburn:

    As always, Rev. Watkins has words of strength to share. Thanks be to God for her leadership!

  10. Linda Joy Curtner:

    I am so thankful for your words. I was so saddened by the turn of the election which is disastrous when we in Florida are heading into the Florida Disciples Women’s Ministries Fall Retreat 2016. We as leaders should be up-beat and energized and I found myself sickened by the fear I was seeing in some of my women’s responses to facebook posts. I posted this on facebook praying that those same women can glean the hope I see in the prose and scripture. I am thankful for these words at a time when I needed them and thank God for you as you helped me prepare for a wonderful weekend. We will not try to hide or mask feelings but promote healing and a thirst for working together for missions we deem so necessary. Bravo! Linda Joy Curtner, President, FDWM

  11. Eric Chism:

    I’m offended by “lead by women.”

    What’s the purpose or need for that?

    • Robert Coe:

      I agree. I don’t understand “lead by women”/

    • Donna McWhirter:

      I do not think Sharon was leaving out men to offend you.. She is referring to the program through Church Women United and the Disciples women of our churches who are working to stop human trafficking. If the men of your church or yourself have been participating in this service project she should become aware of that and you too should be included.

  12. Sandy Buckner:

    I couldn’t agree more. I am so thankful for my church South Street Christian.

  13. Nathan DeArman:

    Thank you for posting this! Even though we are Christians and strive to be as open to all beliefs, opinions and views as possible; we are also human. We often struggle to accept decisions that we did not make. Whether we voted for the chosen candidates of this election or not, I ask us to all pray together. We not only need to come together and pray for all of our elected officials, but we also need to pray that the decions that they make are made with the best interest of all of us.

  14. James Smith:

    So well stated and a Church “where one does not come to find relegion but rather a place to find God”

  15. Well said, thank you.

  16. Mary Ann Ward:

    I do appreciate what was shared in this article. The stress of such a long stretch of bickering has affected us deeply. Hatefuless seemed to be at every turn. Let us reach out to each other, remembering ” I can like you. I can love you. And, I do NOT have to agree with you, to do so.” When we have differences of opinion, may we remember ways to listen intently and bring forth our strength from within, that will lead us to working together. Nothing will change instantly. We have to be willing to dedicate ourselves and our time.

  17. Terri Holland:

    Thank you,
    Gracious as always
    You are such a calming factor during chaotic times

    Terri Holland

  18. Well, God is always faithful. Let’s pray that He all things are well with us evangelists.

  19. Joseph Rogers:

    Thank you. As a Queer disciple I spent yesterday in silence. Partly because I didn’t have good words to speak, partly because I didn’t have the words to help others. Reading this though I am reminded why I’m in the process of discernment regarding ordination in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). May we all stand united to serve and resolved to love.

  20. Ralph Messick:

    The song comes to mind and heart:
    I am the church.
    You are the church together!
    All of God’s people
    All around the world
    Yes, we are the church together

  21. On yesterday I had a long talk with God, and in the conversation I told Jehovah-Jireh that I wanted to openly choose Him as my King, my Lord and my God. It’s not that He wasn’t before, but I wanted to openly and consciously reaffirm it in the face of a presidential election that had people selling their souls to ideals and principals that are questionable.

    Today, I can say that my candidate to head the Kingdom that I live in won. He was re-elected as my King and Lord, and his tenure has no limit and no end.

    So, while everyone else is trying to figure out what is going to happen now that the United States has elected another president! I know that my tomorrow is bright, prosperous, and full of hope. My future is still in God’s hands.

    I will continue to practice the principals and commands of our Lord, Jesus Christ; principals of love, compassion, mercy, and peace. Principals that call for us to avoid self-righteousness, and to offer the righteousness of Jesus Christ to all people. Principals that ask us not to condemn others or judge others through the filters of our biases and prejudices. Principals that call us to unite with all people because our Head, (Jesus Christ), declares that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for we are all one in Him.

  22. Glenna tibbs:

    Those of us who believe in love and justice are struggling with how to approach our youth and young adults, those who feel bullied by this election, and those who feel so scared and angry at our country folk. I think it is going to be crucial to our county to role model nonviolence while addressing any behaviors that will bring damage to the diverse community we live in. I will be encouraged if we as a church put our love to work as we always have. The young adults need to hear and be involved in active change. They are tired of words. So let us be active in making changes that could benefit our populace along with our wisdom and comfort.

  23. katherine kinnamon:

    Thank you for this word, Sharon, and for your pastoral leadership at this time in our nation’s life. Your words are–as they should be–a reminder of our roots, to whom we belong and for what have we been called. I am deeply appreciative, and will be sharing your blog with my congregation.
    kk

  24. Cheryl Poynter:

    Rev. Watkins,

    Thank you for these inspiring words. As a member of Centennial Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I’m looking forward to celebrating Pastor Perkins 9th Anniversary on Sunday, November 13th and toward doing what and how God will instruct us, to bring Hope, Unity, Justice and All Good things God wants us to do!!!

    Peace & Blessings

  25. Amy Halvorson Miller:

    And the love of God is that big to gather us all to the table! I appreciate the scripture references listed as I help my UMC congregation look to the continuing path God has for us; loving God and loving neighbor. This disciple thanks you Disciples.

  26. Wanda Ponder:

    AMEN!!!!! Brother John. If we keep God and Christ Jesus FIRST in our lives everything else will fall into place — in God’s time. All is very well stated and I totally agreed 100%.

  27. Donna Myer:

    Well said. No matter how challenging, we are called to reach out in honest open love – life is never about us and them and is always about us and God.

  28. Marilyn F.Williams:

    In unity with you Madame President, my sister and my friend. God is still God, and that will never change. Amen

  29. Josh:

    Very disappointed on the white evangelicals so called “Christians ” this shows how the church is so wrong in many things that need to be reestructure in many ways there are so many false christians evangelicals out there i have no words to describe them all just mad and disappointed.

  30. James Rawlins:

    If we love the LGBTQ community so much, why do we have to always make a spectacle of or segregate that group of individuals? Why can be not be inclusive enough to just say; … “all seekers and believers”

    • Charles Garnett:

      Yes James, or any other group. If all are welcome, then all are welcome. Why do we keep carving out and pointing out idividual groups? All means all.

  31. Charles Garnett:

    This is very good. Well written and very meaningful. A much better reaction than doing a phone call vote to move the convention out of state because some members (probably most) did not agree with a political decision by the state. As a life long member…I was just about gone over that one.
    Is there one conservative voice in leadership now?

  32. Bret Myers:

    Greetings Disciples:

    I generally agree with most of what this post has to say. Indeed, for most of my 31 years of ministry, I would raucously applaud the sentiments expressed here. But something seems missing given the particularity of this time in our history. What I think is missing I sincerely doubt was intentional, but perhaps overlooked — much like I do, and I’d venture to say, most of us do most of the time. But isn’t that part of why we are in community: to remind each other of what we think is left out so we can make things more whole?

    Yes, we should most definitely come to the aid and advocacy of those who are being marginalized. Absolutely! But what do we do about the ones who are causing the marginalization?

    Love them? Of course. But not a love without accountability.

    Show them mercy? I’m not so sure.

    Showing mercy to one who continues to discriminate, hate, and oppress others would be a rather insensitive behavior in the midst of those who are victimized by their deeds. Mercy without justice, I’d argue, is not really Biblical. Jesus called people out for their injustice in no uncertain terms. He’d always welcome them in if they decided to turn towards love, peace, and justice; but he did not welcome just anyone who was willing to follow ‘him’ without following his ‘ways.’ Though they would shout, “Lord, Lord!”; he claimed he never knew them. “Follow me” was not a literal but a spiritual endeavor — involving one’s whole being.

    I think this is where many churches today have gone wrong — being more concerned about believing the right things than doing the right things; proclaiming Christ without following Christ. We’ve tended to forget the part about doing as Jesus did. What would Jesus be doing in the midst of this election scenario? Who would Jesus welcome to the table of discipleship; and who would he reprimand and demand an accounting before doing so?

    I wonder if we have become too complacent in the church — willing to let anyone in during an era in which fewer are wanting in? Perhaps that is part of the problem. If we have become so lax in our standards of what it means to be a member of a church, a disciple of Christ, then people may not be seeing the relevance of it anymore. Being a follower of Christ ought to mean something, right? A conviction to certain values, and a commitment to try our best to live them out?

    Yes, we definitely need to love others — even those who don’t love others. But if they want to be a part of our communities of faith, should they not have to also commit themselves to loving others?

    I have preached inclusivity for decades, and have also advocated that we are all God’s children. I still believe that. But some of God’s children are now empowered to do violence and discrimination on other of God’s children, and feel justified in doing it based on the election results. I’m having trouble conceiving of welcoming those violent ones to the table. I wonder if Jesus might also have a problem with that.

    In my own communion liturgy I include words that are as inclusive as possible, so that if you were of any ethnic group, sexual orientation, nationality, gender, dis/ability, or different religious or spiritual belief system that you would be, and feel, welcomed to the table. However, I felt it necessary to have at least one stipulation that would honor the virtue most epitomized by the one we call the host of the table: a commitment to love. The words go something like this: ‘All are invited to this table who are committed to sharing the love and peace that was in Christ with one another, all others, and God’s creation.’ If one is not so committed, then what do we do about the welcome? Should there not be some standard for being able to take communion so that we do not indignify the meal, our host, and the other guests? Or do we welcome all, regardless of their earnestness, in hope that they will change their ways as if, by osmosis, partaking the sacrament will indeed impart grace upon them? See the conundrum?

    Is unity of coming together at table, regardless of one’s spiritual commitment, really what we want to promote? Or rather is it faithfulness, which might require us to rend the consciences of those who blatantly and willfully fall short, and require from them an ethical penitence of changed behavior, before they too are invited to table? In what we call a “sanctuary,” a term that refers to a safe haven for the “least of these,” do we want to allow the persecutor to sit or stand beside the persecuted? Would this not be construed as enabling the former, and of further oppressing the latter?

    Is justice not a higher priority in Jesus’ view than unity? Is compassion for the lowly not valued more than grace for the haughty? Are not shalom and non-violence to be more esteemed as Christians than righteous indignation and the violence of derision and discrimination?

    In a time in which bigotry is rampant, such that some churchgoing individuals would deny others basic human rights, we need to consider whether we want to welcome everyone to participate in a sacrament designed for people who are committed to be disciples of Christ’s ways. Sure, if someone has committed a vile act against another and repents (i.e., turns around/changes one’s moral course) of that act, then they would be welcomed. But what of the unrepentant racist? The braggadocios bigot? The malevolent misogynist? The unbridled bully?

    Might the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Love, first point out the injustice and demand a change of heart before asking them to dine in a spirit of love, peace, and justice? If it is the case that as we do to others, we do to Jesus, then might he refuse a bully to dine with the one having been bullied without first requiring an apology and a vow to stop the behavior?

    Should we not first call out those who disdain the rights of others on their behavior and require a commitment to at least try and do otherwise before they are welcomed to the table of love? Is it not hypocrisy, or worse yet, enablement, to invite those who we know are not so committed?

    To disallow them is not because we are punishing them, and certainly not because they don’t have the image of God within them. But rather it is a matter of Christian integrity; and remaining faithful to a community that not only affirms, but reflects, Christ-like values and virtues.

    If we are going to wear the badge of being a Christian, that is a disciple of Christ, the one who loved others unconditionally and refused to do violence to anyone, then it seems reasonable that we all have to avow that loving others, all others, is paramount to our discipleship. And if we don’t have the integrity to do that ourselves, then perhaps our clergypersons should insist upon this so that we neither make a mockery of our own faith and the faith of our church family, much less that of the rest of Christendom.

    Christian inclusion is a tricky thing. We certainly don’t want to exclude people based on things with which they were born; but is it legitimate to exclude based on their character and their resolve to “go and do likewise”? Can we, in our attempt to be inclusive, forget that we have reasonable expectations that each member of the church family must live up to — such as not oppressing others? Can we become so permissive that we undermine the very notion of what it means to be Christian? If we don’t hold each other accountable, how much light can we really reflect to the world?

    This is my food for thought. I welcome your own insights. Perhaps together we can arrive at greater discernment.

    • Lori Kaufman:

      Who are these people that “we are letting in?” What do they look like? What do they sound like? How many of those “oppressors” reside in our congregations? What kind of “faith test” ought to be given in order to be “let in?”

      Maybe you are just venting; I sure hope so. I hope there is enough love to extend to people with differing political values. I know that God absolutely adores this Christian conservative woman and would be very disappointed to think that communion fellowship would be denied because of how I voted.

  33. I will stand and never give up my faith so i can see the work of GOD in the days or years to come.AMEN!!

  34. Kay Belt:

    Dear Sharon Watkins,
    I think what you wrote was sincerely written and very correct about what we as
    Disciples believe and do for others. I also think our denomination should speak with one voice to Mr. Trump about how he has affected many of us. About how his immoral speech and divisive statements are horrifying and frightening to those we love…our gay friends and family members, our Hispanic friends, including especially their children and finally the women we know and love. You wrote about how the Disciples work “tirelessly” for others, but Mr. Trump needs to know this! I would hope that the General Board would decide to write him with information about what we believe and what we do to help others. We need to stand up for our faith publicly to public officials.

    • Lori Kaufman:

      Before we speak with one voice, we should be certain that we HAVE one voice. Consider that some of our DOC brethren voted for Mr. Trump, not because they are racist or bigoted but because they believe that he will change the course of this country in a positive way. Clearly, I am in a minority among Disciples, and as such, I suspect that many will label me as they have labeled anyone who voted for Mr. Trump. Where was the consolation for the losers of the last two general elections? I am a conservative in a Democrat state; I know how to keep my head low and my mouth shut. I know how to suffer in silence because compassion and consolation from the DOC is only for those who fall in line on the left side of the political/ideological aisle.

      In my church, we don’t have a lot of political discourse because we have a diversity of thought in that respect. As a result, we love each other very much for those things that God gave us to bring to the table and our mission focus is unified to feed the hungry and to love the unloved. This denomination could stand a lesson in that.

      • Steve Odom:

        This was 2012, Lori.
        These days immediately following the 2012 general election, some of us are cheering and some are weeping. I’ve done both, following various elections. Whatever we may think about the results of the election, it is clearer than ever that the United States is a country of great diversity. With the voting over, we now turn our attention to fulfilling our common vision of many people, one nation. The challenge is to ensure that the blessing of diversity does not remain a quagmire of division.

        It’s not our challenge alone. Within hours of the final tallies I received three e-mail messages from Disciples in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These Congolese brothers – leaders in the church there – had, like so many Americans, stayed up all night watching the outcome of our vote. One said, “Your elections affect our lives, too.” Nothing is purely local anymore. We are part of a global community.

        Which leads me to prayer. I feel blessed to be part of this nation. So while I am concerned about our ability to come together, I give thanks for our messy democratic process. I also feel blessed to be part of a community of faith that can be helpful at this very moment of coming together. We are a movement – not sitting still in any one time or place, but moving forward on a journey toward God’s vision of wholeness and shalom for all God’s creation. We are a global community of faith that understands itself to be one Body, many members, diverse but not divided, united by the love of God and committed to sharing that love with neighbors near and far. I pray that we Disciples of Christ, with our vision of one large table open to all, will be part of the national and global conversation that seeks common ground for the common good, bringing God’s children closer to God’s vision of wholeness beyond poverty, beyond racism, beyond division and toward a time of liberty and justice for all.

  35. Bill Lang:

    Sharon, thank you for this. You make us proud. I’ve been sharing this with a number of my non-church friends.

  36. Vincent J. Fraumeni:

    How different might this messge have been had the outcome of the election been different?