By Pastor Liz Eide  |  From the Pastors

As this arrives in your mailbox or inbox we will be in the last days of a Presidential Election. Every election over the last 50 years or so has been more hotly debated than the last. However, the current campaign cycle is more vitriolic and polarizing than ever. Instead of this being a time when we are united as a country, looking forward to our future with hopefulness, we have experienced a division during the last 18 months that threatens to set us back a hundred years and leave us hopeless.

Beyond the sometimes unfathomable depth of cynicism and contempt for the process of electing our next President, those involved in that process, and the office of the President itself—what breaks my heart most is witnessing the way in which we have so often engaged each other in this public dialogue with that same contempt.

Sure, we can easily lay the blame for the current atmosphere of defeat and cynicism at the feet of the candidates themselves, their campaign staff, and the media. But as this election draws to a close we need to own our own part in the ever widening gap between me and those who voted differently from me.

It’s time for us to engage a new conversation; one that bridges the divide, renews our hope for the future, restores our faith in one another, and finds us unified once again.

The apostle Paul, speaking to an ever more diverse community in Ephesus, gives us a picture of what that unity consists of.

I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

— Ephesians 4:1-3

Interesting that nowhere in Paul’s list is winning the argument (or the election) or dragging everyone to my viewpoint. Unity does not look like uniformity. But it does look like humility and gentleness, patience and hearts that are willing to bear with—not just put up with—one another. It looks like relationships grounded in the love that Christ has for each of us and all of us. These are the things that hold together the bond of peace even while we disagree.

Ann Voskamp, a Christian writer, said it well recently: Sometimes when it gets mighty hard to find solutions to the headlines… turns out that lines of hope and change are found in hearts. . . The world may get divisive — but what changes the world is when we divide and share and give away amazing grace. . . Every one of us can start changing headlines when we start reaching out our hands.

Ultimately it’s not the outcome of the election that will decide our future. It’s how we engage each other in word and deed on a daily basis that shapes the atmosphere and culture in which we live.

May God grant each of us courage to reach out to one another—and especially to those with whom we most disagree—with humility, gentleness, patience, and love.

Pastor Liz