I had been meaning for weeks now to add my affirmation to the effort by Mark Schloneger, Kevin Gasser and Ben Irwin to call for Election Day Communion. (The first two, I am happy to say, are former students; Mark gave me the name for my blog.) I think this is a wonderful statement—and a good statement to post as we head toward the presidential election.
I am in total agreement with what is stated in their brief set of commitments. And then I hope that churches who use this for framing an election day communion will also keep the following cautions in mind:
Will we, in affirming what this effort calls for, imply that issues at stake in this election are really not that important (because the real issues are spiritual)?
Will we imply that the Christian faith is only about something spiritual and personal/private and politics (education, etc.) is really about something else—those matters that are discussed and decided in the public realm? (“It doesn’t matter who you vote for, as long as you vote,” is one of the many ways this sentiment can be expressed.)
Or do we really believe, as John Howard Yoder put it, that “the church’s responsibility to and for the world is first and always to be the church”?
Do we truly believe, to put it differently, that the church is a theo-political polis?
Will we refuse to employ superficial slogans, such as God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat (while continuing to sound very much like we are committed to one of these secular ideologies)?
And will we truly continue to wrestle with the ways in which our souls and lives are corrupted by accepting these worldly divisions—and thus attempt to allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to shape the whole of our existence, as we seek wisdom and discernment to know what it means to embody this gospel faithfully, yearning to live lives of justice, righteousness, compassion, humility and kindness in the midst of our present culture in the U.S.?