Occasionally I take a look at a Facebook page for the parents of Georgia Tech students. I jokingly say that this page is the landing pad for helicopter parents who are trying to micromanage their children’s lives from afar. But there is also good information and tips there, and it is interesting to read what is on other parents’ minds.
Yesterday what was on their minds was fear. Not fear of the coronavirus (although that has been an ongoing discussion since last spring), but fear of election day and its aftermath. Parent after parent said they had told their students to stock up on groceries and any other necessities and to plan not to go out at all on election day or the days after. Many fear that the streets of midtown Atlanta will not be safe this week, that there is the real possibility of post-election riots.
I was stunned and a bit incredulous. Then I watched the news and saw video from Texas of a parade of cars flying flags for one candidate trying to force the other candidate’s campaign bus off the highway. I saw a peaceful march of voters in Raleigh met by tear gas from police. I saw a Democratic rally just up the highway in Rome cancelled because of threats from militia. I do not predict riots in the streets of Atlanta, but suddenly the idea didn’t seem so far fetched.
Tomorrow will be the 17th presidential election of my lifetime. I’ve voted in 12 of them. And I have never seen such egregious attempts at voter suppression and intimidation, often encouraged and cheered on by the president.
As I’ve watched the news the past few days the gospel reading from yesterday’s service keeps coming to mind. It was the Beatitudes, part of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. Jesus is telling his followers who is blessed in the kingdom of God. Blessed are the poor, he says. Blessed are the meek, the peacemakers, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, those who mourn.
Nowhere does Jesus say blessed are the bullies, the liars, the corrupt, the violent, those who abuse power. In other words, what we are seeing on the news has no place in the kingdom of God, and no place in our democracy, either.
Our evening worship this week, beginning tonight, will be short Eucharists offered as prayers for the election and our nation. The service is attached.
And here is the prayer for election eve, a prayer for discernment:
O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Finally, here is the link to RSVP for in-person worship on Sunday: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/8050F49ACA822A1FD0-church4
See you tonight at 8.