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Message from the Bishop of the Central States Synod

Late this morning Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States and officially begin his work. The campaign that led to this hour highlighted rather than helped to heal knotty challenges our nation continues to experience in race relations, equal economic opportunity, respect for the inherent dignity of all persons.

 

Some of us celebrated the outcome of this election, others of us lamented, still others were disappointed in the field of candidates and declined to participate in the process. However, now is the time for us – all of us – to move on, and I am encouraging us in the Central States Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to move on in two very particular ways.

 

First, I urge us to pray for our new president as he takes up the heavy mantle of leadership. Scripture calls us to pray “for all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in … dignity. This is right and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (1 Timothy 2:2–3) We can and should pray that President-elect Trump and the administration he gathers and leads will be willing instruments in God’s hands as God continues to shape creation to embody God’s values of mercy, justice, forgiveness, and grace.

 

A prayer in Occasional Services for the Assembly puts it well: “Almighty God, bless the public servants in the government of this country, that they may do their work in a spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice. Help them use their authority to serve faithfully and to promote our common life; through your son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

Second, I urge us to accompany our prayer for our leadership with action of our own. Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, progressive, or yet-to-be-named – whatever political label we bear takes a distant second place to our deeper and stronger identity: Christian. We are all members of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) and as such are to be active in living the life of Jesus in the world.

 

As we pray for our leaders to act with wisdom, justice, a concern for the common good and a compassionate heart for the most vulnerable, we ourselves are to do precisely the same in our dealings with one another and as citizens of our nation. Regardless of your political leanings I urge you to find ways to be effective, to make a difference for the better because of Jesus and in the name of Jesus. There is much to be done to realize the petition, “Thy will be done, on earth … .” Let’s get to work, Church.

 

Roger Gustafson, Bishop rgustafson@css-elca.org

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