A Call to Communion: November 8, 2016
These remarks are inspired by a movement that started in 2012 called the Election Day Communion Campaign. You can read more about the campaign here.
The political divide in the United States is growing. I suppose to some extent every generation believes that theirs is the worst when it comes to partisanship. Yet, this election cycle has been particularly brutal. We, as a country, are becoming evermore partisan to the point that it has become very difficult for us to even sit down at the table and talk. Perhaps, the greatest example of this was at the recent Vice-Presidential Debates where the two candidates, sitting at a table with a moderator, constantly talked over and past one another. It was striking how little they actually looked at each other while they were talking. It was an awful spectacle illustrative of the way we refuse to engage those we disagree with.
With just five weeks till the election, the divisive rhetoric will be amplified. Divisions will undoubtedly grow. Everyone who participates in the political system this election will find themselves on one side or the other. There seems to be little middle ground. Few bridges are being built. And so I wonder how the Church might model a different reality? One not of division, but of mercy, forgiveness, grace, a love that seeks understanding, and peace? How might our churches model unity in a world so fiercely divided (especially over politics)?
We are called, through our faith, to a new reality. “The spirit of love and unity that Christians are called to have with one another (John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Galatians 6:1-10; Ephesians 4:1-16; Colossians 3:12-17) stands in sharp contrast to the harsh divisiveness that characterizes secular politics.” Christians–while we may have differing political opinions–are called to stand together in following Jesus (not a particular political ideologue). Our unity “is found in repentance for our sins, acceptance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and submission to the will of God as revealed in Scripture, rather than in any partisan political agenda.” And so I wonder, what might it look like for the church to celebrate this unity on election night: a night so often defined by partisanship.
While many will be anxiously awaiting the results and predictions from the polls, imagine how powerful it might be if the church gathered to pray for our country and common life together. What might it look like if Christians united around the table of the Lord? There, sharing bread and cup, we will (as the Church has done countless times before for nearly two millennia) remember our faith and re-member the body of Christ. Around the table…
We’ll remember that real power in this world–the power to save, to transform, to change–ultimately rests not in political parties or presidents or protests but in the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus.
We’ll remember that, through the Holy Spirit, this power dwells within otherwise ordinary people who as one body continue the mission of Jesus: preaching good news to the poor, feeding the captives, giving sight to the blind, releasing the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:16-21).
We’ll remember that the only Christian nation in this world is the Church, a holy nation that crosses all human-made boundaries and borders.
And we’ll re-member the body of Christ as the body of Christ, confessing the ways in which partisan politics has separated us from one another and from God.”
Imagine how powerful it might be if on Election Day 2016, the Church bore witness to and lived into God’s reign and realm–a realm where all the social constructs we’ve created are abolished, where “there is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, Common English Bible). Let’s show the world a better way this election season! Regardless of how you vote, let us all bear witness to the unity we find in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us gather at the table and re-member the body of Christ as a particularly divisive election season comes to a close on November 8!
 “5013. On Humility, Politics, and Christian Unity” in The United Methodist Book of Resolutions–2012 (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 2012), p640.
 As quoted in “Election Day Communion” by Duane Shank Sojo.net (11-05-2012) <https://sojo.net/articles/election-day-communion> Accessed October 6, 2016.