How to Keep the Voting Booth from Tearing us Apart

It’s the day after the first presidential debate and I don’t think we can say we learned anything new about these two candidates.

2016 may go down as one of the more bizarre presidential elections in recent American history with both candidates viewed unfavorably by so many, even within their own parties.

According to one poll, 59% of registered voters view Hilary Clinton unfavorably, matching Donald Trump’s unpopularity with voters which stands at 60%. [1] This kind of disapproval is creating a heightened sense of acrimony as Christians start pointing judgmental fingers at each other, appalled that a fellow follower of Jesus, who is committed to the faith, would dare vote for that candidate.

This seething cauldron of angst is about ready to boil over as the political rhetoric surrounding this current presidential election starts ramping up. The old worn-out clichés are about to increase their volume:

This is the most important election in our lifetime.

America is at a critical crossroads.

We are facing the biggest crisis of a generation.

Such rhetoric aggravates our anxieties, and when we combine that aggravation with the general discontent with the current voting options, we have the potential for real division in the body of Christ.

I wish we lived in a world where Christians could respectfully discuss their political differences, vote their conscience, and genuinely love one another despite the outcome of the election. But this is the “wish dream” Bonhoeffer writes about in Life Together. [2] I agree with Bonhoeffer that the sooner we become disillusioned with that kind of congregation the better. We have to face the unhappy and ugly truth that people hold their political opinions close to their hearts. I just do not want this election season to tear us apart. What can we do? We have to face the ugly truth that people hold their political opinions close to their hearts. Click To Tweet

Come To the Table

Our church is doing what dozens (and hopefully hundreds!) of other churches will do on election day this year. We are going to invite our congregation to come to the table and celebrate communion as an act of unity in the body of Christ. It’s called Election Day Communion. Started in 2012 by a group of Mennonite pastors, our church participated in this liturgical act on election day four years ago and we found it to be a wonderful Christian response to the polarizing division in American partisan politics. According to the organizers, Election Day Communion has a single vision—to remember Christ on election day. Here’s the story:

Election Day Communion began in 2012 with a concern that Christians in the United States are being shaped more by the tactics and ideologies of political parties than by their identity in and allegiance to Jesus. Out of this concern, a simple vision sparked the imaginations of several Mennonite pastors: The Church being the Church on Election Day, gathering at the Lord’s Table to remember, to practice, to give thanks for, and to proclaim its allegiance to Christ. [3]

Jesus said every time we come to the table to participate in this holy meal we do so in remembrance of him. At the table we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes, remembering Jesus is the world’s true Lord. King Jesus has a cross for a throne and his crown is made of thorns. As we partake in the body and blood of Christ, we are reminded that the cross demonstrates how Jesus carries out his administration. Jesus rules by co-suffering, self-giving love. Jesus carries out his administration by co-suffering, self-giving love. Click To Tweet

When we go to the voting booth we cast our vote for the candidates and issues we feel are best. When we come to the table, we don’t cast anything; we receive the body of Christ broken and the blood of Christ shed. In the voting booth we are divided; at the table we are united. I can think of nothing better to keep this election season from driving a wedge into our church than by coming to the table on election day. We vote one way or the other and then we all come to the table and celebrate what matters most. In the voting booth we are divided; at the table we are united. Click To Tweet

Get Involved

If you are a pastor or church leader and you are interested in participating in Election Day Communion, go to their website and register your church. Our church (Word of Life Church, St. Joseph, MO) is number 12 on the list. Go here to register your church:

If you are a member of a church, contact your pastor, priest, board of elders or deacons, and ask them to consider participating this year.

You can learn more about Election Day Communion, and help spread the word, by checking them out online.

Twitter: @edaycommunion

_____________________ [1]
[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 26.

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