Pastoral Letter on the 2016 Presidential Election (originally distributed on 11/14/16)

Dearly Beloved Children of God in Christ,

While the First Lady and I were in England on election day, our hearts, minds, and prayers were with you and our fellow Americans after the dust settled on the shocking news that Donald Trump was now the president-elect. For many of you, this was more than a surprise, more than disappointing... this brought fear and trepidation. Many have wondered how will parents tell their children to value kindness and good manners, to be respectful and humble, while the one elected president has consistently demonstrated a bullying egoism, racist and sexist and malicious attitude, childish outbursts and immature rants, outright lying and name calling? What can we say about a man who mocks the disabled and insults war heroes and their families? What can we make of the fact that the Ku Klux Klan held a celebration rally in response to his election? How are we to view a man who has said he does not seek divine forgiveness? What does his election say about the office of President of the United States? What does it say about America?

Our friends overseas share our concerns. Their sense of shock and uncertainty was readily expressed to me. When the First Lady and I worshiped at the Canterbury Cathedral on the evening after the election, prayers were lifted for the people of the United States and for the future of the world, because the precarious nature of the situation in which we find ourselves is a world-wide concern.

Much is at stake: the progress made in ensuring that all have access to affordable health care; safety and mutual respect when people of color interact with the police; regard for patriotic Muslims and immigrants in the United States, and compassion for those of good character who desire to come here; ensuring that our divinely commanded stewardship of the environment will not be sinfully forsaken in the name of greed and short term financial gain; affirming our allies' and Native Nations' ability to rely on the word of the United States in regard to upholding treaties and international law. But, as our government declares that it is "by the people and for the people," it is up to us, the people, to demand that elected leaders bear these things in mind or they shall answer to the people. We all share in the responsibility to guide our country.

Indeed, even as I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton prior to my departure, it was not with gladness of heart. I knew that if she won, there were things she stood for which I would have to continue to oppose, as the Word of God and the Spirit of Christ compels me. In truth, neither candidate fell in line with my Christian convictions. So, while I shared in the moment of shock over the election results, I would not have been able to really celebrate even if the vote had gone the other way.

Truly, no matter who is president, we know that divine providence still governs all things and that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, who are the called according to his purpose (Rom 9:28). No matter who sits in the White House, King Jesus still sits upon the throne! As citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, we are called to live righteously in this world regardless of the challenges a season may bring. We are given the biblical charge to work for justice and show mercy, to respect and pray for leaders while still prophetically holding them accountable to the Law of God.

To that end, in accordance with the Word of God, I offer this prayer...

Lord Jesus, you are our victorious King, our Lord, our Savior. You are enthroned in heaven and still abiding with your people here below. We pray for our nation and our world, that your will be done and your reign be acknowledged on earth as it is in heaven. Turn the hearts of the leaders toward your will. Let the reverent fear of your holiness drive them to their knees in repentant faith before your cross. Lord we ask, in your holy name, that the president-elect be changed by your word and humbled by your perfections. Let your grace shower down wisdom, love, and humility upon him and all those who are in positions of power in Washington, DC. Cause him to seek truth instead of lies, justice instead of cruelty, righteousness instead of self-interest, compassion instead of intolerance, mercy instead of greed. When he is repentant, grant him increased maturity. When he is obstinate, chastise and crush him in spirit so that he may learn humility. Lord, give us strength through this time of uncertainty. Guide us to speak the truth, act justly, and oppose evil in your name and by your grace. Let your peace bring joy and healing. Maranatha, Lord come! Amen.

Pastor Norwood