Over 6 years ago Westwood launched its focus on our confession that in baptism each of us has been claimed as a child of God and called to be God’s hands and feet in all realms of our life. We use the word “Vocation” to describe this. One of the reasons this focus emerged was the concern that a real separation exists for many of us between our faith and our real lives. Over the last years, we have had specific foci on our callings in our work/school/retirement roles, in our role as a neighbor, and in our family and friend roles.
As we enter the fall of 2020 amidst an ongoing pandemic and following a summer of deep questions about racial equity, we approach an upcoming election which has dominated the news cycle. If we are to take seriously this call to discipleship in all the realms of our lives, then one of the things we need to acknowledge is that we also have a calling as citizens. Our theme for the coming year is “Faithful Imagination,” and this fall, we will focus on “Faithful Imagination: Our Voice in the Public Realm”.
While we as leaders see this as critical to engage as people of faith, we are not naïve to the challenges that this presents in such a hyper-partisan environment. No matter our intent, the wrong combination of words or inflection in our voice can quickly lead folks to assume a particular partisan meaning. In addition, we all have the challenge of our own humanness. We each have our own opinions about the upcoming election and that can easily come through. So, with these two challenges in mind, we’d like to share a clear statement on what our goals are, what they are not, and our invitation to you.
Goals for this fall’s vocation series on our voice in the public realm:
Connect our faith and our citizenship. Our voting is a part of our calling to seek the thriving of our neighbor and the world that God loves.
Challenge each member, no matter how they vote, to be able to articulate how their confession of God as revealed in the scriptures has influenced their voice in the public realm.
To share theological principles that have historically influenced how Lutherans have approached the calling to citizenship.
To listen to other voices in our community about what matters to them in this election.
What is NOT our goal:
It is not our goal to endorse a candidate or political party.
It is not our goal to achieve unanimity.
What we ask of you:
To pray for God’s Spirit to lead us all in a faithful path in this season.
To challenge yourself to articulate how your faith connects to our calling as a citizen.
To be an active participant in the season. To that end, the assigned Sunday Gospel texts that we’ll be preaching on are listed below. We invite you to read/study them in advance, pray about them, and wonder what they say to us in this context just as the preachers will each week.
To create a culture of grace in which straight and honest talk is possible along with the presence of forgiveness as we discuss important and sensitive topics.
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“The opposite of fear is hope, defined as the expectation of good fortune not only for ourselves but for a group to which we belong. Fear feeds anxiety and produces anger; hope, particularly in a political sense, breeds optimism and feelings of well-being. Fear is about limits; hope is about growth. Fear casts its eyes warily, even shiftily, across the landscape; hope looks forward, toward the horizon. Fear points at others, assigning blame; hope points ahead, working for a common good. Fear pushes away; hope pulls others closer. Fear divides; hope unifies.”
“The Soul of America” by Jon Meacham