According to an August 2020 Pew research poll, 83% of Americans (Democrat and Republican alike) feel it matters who wins the presidency. The 2020 election has ended with the largest voter participation in over a century with an estimated 150 million voters. This election cycle witnessed an increase in new, younger voters and record turnouts in 42 of the 50 states with Minnesota topping 80% of eligible voters casting votes in the Presidential election.
Millions of dollars are spent annually on elections; this being the most expensive election cycle in history with an estimated $14 billion expended.
While crowds took to the streets in major cities to celebrate the announcement of Joe Biden as President-Elect, President Trump and millions of voters have not yet concluded that our 2020 election drama is over. All of the state votes have not yet been certified; legal disputes have not yet been resolved, and no Presidential concession speeches have been recorded.
I am old enough to remember the presidential drama of 2000 (Bush vs. Gore) which ended in a Supreme Court decision that stopped the recount in Florida. President Bush was declared the winner, and there was a successful and peaceful transfer of power.
Democracy can be messy, and—as we have witnessed—expensive and sometimes divisive. Our Presidents are ultimately determined by the required number of Electoral College votes. We cast our individual votes to express our choice. A hallmark of American democracy has been safe elections with a peaceful transfer of power when there is change.
This is what I believe to be true: Every election results in celebration and disappointment. In the next several weeks, I am praying for a release from the resentment and bitter distrust that is so pervasive in our society today. May God lead us Jesus followers up a ramp toward this coming Advent season, to live as people of relentless hope.
I have been reflecting on how I can best live as a Christian in this season of pandemics and restrictions. The Holy Spirit keeps returning me to the Bible.
In my home office above the doorway are the words from Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” The Common English Bible version reads, “That’s enough! Now know that I am God! I am exalted among all nations; I am exalted throughout the world!” If you have been anxious about many things over these many months, I encourage you to take time to “be still.”
John 13:34-35 says, “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so must you love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples when you love each other.”
Are we living our faith out of obligation or opportunity? If I see encounters and relationships as opportunities for growth in my own Christian discipleship, I can, with God’s help, respect the journey of others. We can value the stories of others while giving voice to our own stories of pain, promise, and Christian purpose. At the center of our purpose is the love of God made real in our love for others.
I believe there is much agony and discontent due, in part, to the overabundance of offered versions of truth that distort people and positions we may disagree with, turning them into people and positions we feel obligated to demonize. We do not know each other’s stories. This is the hard but rewarding work of building community. Telling our stories and sharing a vision of a world shaped by God’s heart and Christ’s love may just lead us to a better place.
My question for all of us to ponder and prayerfully consider is this: How might we participate in building a ramp of relentless hope and Christian love leading up to our Advent journey for 2020?
I offer for your consideration the fruit of the Spirit as an alternative to tribal allegiance, bludgeoning on social media, consumption of conspiracy theories, and spiritual depression and anger brought on by politics.
As Galatians 5:22-23 (CEB) says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.”
Let us meditate on patience and allow our time of stillness to be restorative. Christian believers, resist the temptation to act hastily and judge others harshly in the face of disagreement or opposition. Let us pursue a heart at peace. God is not a God of disorder but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Instead, let’s do as Romans 14:19 instructs, “So let’s strive for the things that bring peace and the things that build each other up.”
Love, patience, and peace can help in building our ramp to Advent. There is more fruit to reveal our commitment to the discipleship journey. Take a deep breath…God is good!
Julius C. Trimble
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church