A Message from Bishop Poulson

A Message from Bishop Poulson

“Make Us Instruments of Your Peace”: On the Upcoming Election
The Right Reverend Poulson Reed, Bishop of Oklahoma
To the beloved in Christ in Oklahoma

“Make Us Instruments of Your Peace”: On the Upcoming Election
The Right Reverend Poulson Reed, Bishop of Oklahoma

To the beloved in Christ in Oklahoma,

This week, we celebrated the feast day of Saint Francis. Saint Francis is rightly remembered for his love of animals and all of God’s creation. He devoted his life to serving the poor, calling others by his preaching and his radical simplicity of life to do the same. He is also credited with composing the “Prayer of Saint Francis,” and whether he was its author or its inspiration, it certainly reflects his Christian witness and his faith in the power of God to work through people to bring life, love, and hope out of death, hatred, and despair. 

As we approach the upcoming election in our nation in the midst of bitter partisan division, global pandemic, and social and economic upheaval, I call upon the Episcopalians of our diocese to pray the Prayer of Saint Francis regularly (perhaps daily, or on the four Sundays preceding the election), and to strive to live its Christ-like teachings wherever we may be, including on social media.

First, may we pray. The Prayer of Saint Francis, the Prayers for National Life in our Book of Common Prayer (pages 820-823), and other prayers, offered fervently and with sincerity, have power beyond our human understanding to shape our hearts, minds, the nation, and the world, by God’s grace. Prayer is no small thing; it is essential and effectual.

Second, may we strive to live as followers of Jesus Christ at all times and in all places, and especially in the midst of anxiety and tumult. In this election season, our political choices ought to be informed by our faith. Core Biblical principles, such as caring for the vulnerable, loving our enemies, striving for justice and peace, and cultivating the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), and the core Episcopal values of our Baptismal Covenant are often inconvenient, countercultural, difficult, and downright uncomfortable. But they are our values, and it is up to each of us to discern prayerfully and thoughtfully how they align with the political candidates and issues before us.

There are good Episcopalians who are Democrats, and good Episcopalians who are Republicans, and good folks in between. The Gospel often lines up imperfectly with political parties, and faithful people can agree on a faith value (say, the importance of helping the poor) without agreeing on how best to do so.

Whatever the outcome of the upcoming election, may we have grace to see those who differ from us as fellow children of God. The Scriptures make clear that there are times for righteous anger against injustice. Civility, while good, has its limits. But may we never say or think of another “I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21).

We might consider adopting in our lives and in our congregations the “With Malice Toward None Pledge” that says: “Regardless of how the election turns out, I will not hold hate, disdain, or ridicule for those who voted differently from me. Whether I am pleased or upset about the outcome, I will seek to understand the concerns and aspirations of those who voted differently and look for opportunities to work with people with whom I disagree.”

We can seek common ground, common gratitude, and common prayer, even when there is a chasm between us. We can disagree fervently, without hating one another. 

Please know that I am praying for all of us, our individuals, congregations, and institutions, at this challenging time. We have a gift to offer our communities, by proclaiming a kingdom that is not of this world, and a prince of peace who rules humbly and lovingly over it, yet with power. As we await with longing the final fulfillment of that heavenly kingdom, we ask God to use us for good:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is
hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where
there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where
there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is
in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life. Amen.

In Christ’s Peace,

Bishop Poulson

For more information on the “With Malice Toward None” pledge, see HERE


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