US citizens go to the polls today to elect a new president. A historic election because of the candidates. The process has revealed both the progress we have made in overcoming our racist heritage and the continuing undercurrent of that disease in our national soul. Ads for and against candidates and gatherings of supporters have shown our worst and our best.
Barbara Crafton writing from Italy at The Geranium Farm shares the experience of voting from overseas:
People will gather at the consulate early in the morning on November 5th to hear the returns. People here sometimes wonder if their absentee ballots are counted, arriving so early and coming from so far away, but it doesn’t seem to keep them from expending a fair amount of effort to vote. Is it easier for you, where you live? Hope so.
I’m taking Wyatt to the polls with me, Anna said on the phone yesterday. He’s going to be able to say he went into the voting both in this election. Wyatt has a onesie, size 0, emblazoned with the name and image of his candidate. That’s our boy.
The turnout promises to be huge. It isn’t always, and it’s thrilling to listen to the radio from Italy and hear American excitement and urgency. It should always be that way. Politics matters here in Europe. It should matter everywhere: in a democracy, we get the person we elect. If we put nothing in, allowing others to do our work for us and perhaps to do it cynically, we get precious little out.
So, whichever lever you pull or button you push, whichever box you check, exercise your great right and privilege. Be proud of it. And feel the majesty of this simple political act.
Read it all here.
Jim Wallis of Sojourners offers a prayer for election day first thanking God for those who made it possible for all of us to vote:
On the eve of this historic election let us pause for a moment of thanks. We should thank God for the men and women who committed themselves to establish a new nation, in which voting was possible. We should thank God for the courage of the women of the Suffrage movement who pioneered the path to the 19th Amendment and ensured women the right to vote. We should thank God for those who risked and sacrificed their lives to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to allow all our citizens, regardless of the color of their skin, to vote.
We pray for the candidates, their family and their staff—who have worked tirelessly to offer the country the vision of the future they deeply believe in….
We pray most of all against a spirit of fear. The Scriptures say that “God has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of love, a spirit of power and a strong mind.” Help us to remember the words of our Lord Jesus, who reminds us that love casts our fear and to be not afraid….
Today we also pray for those who will vote differently than we do, for their own reasons also deeply rooted in faith. And we pray, despite the outcome of the election tomorrow, that we will find the ways to build bridges and work together for the common good of the country we all dwell in. And may our votes tomorrow be guided less by a fear of our neighbor and more by a hope for the future.
… But we pray … for God’s special blessing on our nation, and that the opportunities to fulfill our country’s greatest possibilities might be greatly enlarged
Read it all here.
The Chicago Tribune visited Trinity United Church of Christ on Sunday and reports on the preaching and prayers that are traditionally grounded in liberation theology:
Before his sermon, Rev. Otis Moss III asked members of the congregation who had voted early to show their hands. Most people did.
He followed up with a sermon based on the Hebrew Bible’s account of David and Bathsheba—the story of a leader who sends his troops to war while he stays home, a subtle dig at President Bush’s decision to wage war in Iraq. Moss used it to emphasize the importance of “truth tellers in this day and age.”
Some excerpts from A Litany of Remembrance follow:
LEADER: Blow the trumpet in Zion and tell the people that some day there will be a King who rules with integrity, and national leaders who govern with justice … Their eyes and ears will be open to the needs of the people. Isaiah 32:1-3
PEOPLE: And until that day comes, we must remain in the watchtower, blowing the trumpet and getting our feet on the ground until we run the course and win the race.
LEADER: We cannot forget that this country was founded on a principle of African Americans being 3/5 of a “man,” and only white male landowners were allowed to vote. We cannot forget our 19th century ancestors whose faith took them through the promises and disappointments of an Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th and 14th amendments to end legal slavery and grant them citizenship.
PEOPLE: We can only imagine the joy of our ancestors hearing of the 1870 15th amendment that extended voting rights to Black males. These brave men withstood intimidation, risks of life, livelihood and property. Despite it all, during this period called “Reconstruction,” they exercised the right to vote, electing Black officials at local, state and national levels.
LEADER: But then and now, the God of our weary years, the God we prayed to in faith and with hope, continues to be present in the active struggle of our people.
PEOPLE: We honor the NAACP and the legal genius of its attorney, Thurgood Marshall, who won a Supreme Court ruling in 1944 that white-only primaries were unconstitutional. We honor CORE, SCLC and SNCC, who with the slogan “One Man, One Vote,” organized voting rights campaigns in the 1960s against the white only system.
LEADER: And, until justice comes down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream, we will vote in Remembrance of our ancestors past, for Responsibility of ourselves today; and, in Reclamation of our hope for future generations.
PEOPLE: We will remain faithful to the God of our weary years and hopeful for a brighter tomorrow for all God’s people. Yes, we will cast our vote and get others to do the same.
ALL: Yes, we will vote for justice, for liberation and for freedom for all, because we are called to follow Jesus and to bring the light of the gospel to bear upon this issue of change for America and change for the World. To God be the Glory for all we have witnessed and have yet to see!
Read it all here.