Only 192 days til…..no, not Christmas….ELECTION DAY on November 8th. No matter which candidate or party you support, many lament the divisiveness and mean-spiritedness of the long primary and election season. We long for ways to seek the common good and bridge our divides.
One of the gifts of our Lutheran heritage is a theology of vocation. Martin Luther was one of the first to use the term “vocation” to refer to secular offices and occupations. In other words, it’s not just full-time church workers who serve God! We all serve God in our domestic lives, carrying out our civic duties, and through our means of employment. In all these areas we respond to the call to love God and love our neighbor.
Quaker author and teacher Parker Palmer writes to encourage people of faith to carry out the vocation of their civic life in his book Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit. In the book, he explores five “habits of the heart” that can be developed in everyday settings. They are not explicitly religious, yet one can hear the voice of scripture in the background.
1. An understanding that we are all in this together. (Think: St. Paul’s analogy that we are together the body of Christ; when one suffers, we all suffer; when one rejoices, we all rejoice.)
2. An appreciation of the value of “otherness” (Think: Jesus’ lengthiest conversation is with a Samaritan woman.)
3. An ability to hold tension in life-giving ways (Think: Jesus’ anger at injustice, yet love for all, especially the lost and least.)
4. A sense of personal voice and agency (Think: the apostles of the early church pray to speak the word with boldness in Acts 4)
5. A capacity to build community (Think: Jesus gives us the gift of Eucharist, holy communion, in which sin is forgiven and grace is shared in community)
It’s a long, long election season. But perhaps we can put it to good use here at Gethsemane (along with brothers and sisters at Hope UCC and St. Mark Episcopal) by reading and discussing Palmer’s book. Watch for more information in weeks to come.