[Opening remarks given by Bishop Mathes at the start of the 43rd Annual Diocesan Convention.]
Before we begin today, I feel compelled to say a word about the election. The results show a much divided nation. That is not debatable. Once again, one candidate won the electoral college vote and the election; the other marginally prevailed in the popular vote. I am keenly aware that so many of us felt that this was a Faustian choice. Friendships are divided. Families are divided. And this church is divided. Some are pleased; others are ambivalent, and others deeply wounded. Much of this is because of the unprecedented harshness of rhetoric that was so skimpy on specifics.
As participants in a democracy, I hope we underscore the collective action we just took [at this convention] by honoring those who served our country, and those who have kept home and hearth healthy in their absence. I hope we underscore that we value this democracy and we participate in it. And now our role is to accept the decision of our process. We hope we saw the beginnings of a smooth and graceful transition. As Episcopalians, we will pray for the president-elect and all others in authority. As is our custom and tradition, each Sunday we will continue to pray for the president of the United States and others in authority.
However, we have another obligation. Our religion is not republican or democrat. Our symbol is not red or blue. It is the cross of Jesus Christ. As such we have specific ethical standards which are rooted in the teachings of Jesus. Radical hospitality and love of neighbor are bedrock behaviors of the Christian. In the course of this election, particular groups have been derided and made to feel excluded from our national community. This is anathema to both our Christian principles and our national creed of one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. In this brittle season, we the Church are called to be mindful of our role to be the conscience of the nation.
We should do that regardless of who we voted for, regardless of our political leanings. This is a place where we can all stand with Jesus. So as your bishop, I commend this place to you. I call upon you to join in conscience, to be the conscience of our nation, to stand with people who are made to feel vulnerable because of their gender or sexual orientation or gender identification. We stand with them and we stand with the immigrant or stranger in our midst. We stand with the poor or dispossessed. We stand with those who are disabled. We stand with all races and cultures that are marginalized or persecuted because of who they are. We stand with people of faith who are targeted for their beliefs. We stand with Jesus as sinners and saints in need of his redeeming, yet as proclaimers of his fearless love for the world.
And so let us pray,
O God, who charges all life with meaning and purpose both in holy places and in the affairs of daily life. We ask that we may see in the life and death of Jesus, the call to both personal piety and a vital rule in the public issues of these days, especially those who are most consequential to the poor, the forsaken and the marginalized.
Grant that we may bring to public discourse, which strains the bounds of our mutual affection, new energy to reorder our corporate life, that it may reflect the graciousness of God to redeem what has been counted to be of no account, to enfranchise those who have been forgotten, to invite back those who feel unqualified or excluded.
May our desire for wholeness overrule the counsel of special interests and so may our need to save ourselves be overruled by our mission to take upon ourselves the risk of those who have no voice.
This we ask in the name of the one who enters into the messiness of human life and brings all things under the sway of his never-failing and unceasing love, Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
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