By the time I arrived at the church building, I could already feel it. That slow, inexorable, churning agitation. The anticipation and the uncertainty of it all.
Who’s going to win? Will we even find out before we all stagger into our beds at 2 a.m.? What if the other guy takes it?
Just how easy is it to emigrate to Canada, anyway?
I love and hate election night. Love it… because, well, I’ve always been a political junkie. Hate it… because I don’t handle uncertainty very well. (More than one person has helpfully pointed out this combination is a recipe for a disorder.)
Inside the church, two liturgies were playing out side by side. On the left, a line of voters waited quietly to cast their ballots — the last of the evening in my state. To the right, inside the sanctuary, a small gathering prepared itself to receive the bread and wine of holy communion.
The tension drained from my body the moment I sat down. Bread and wine were the antidote for my ballot box anxiety. This ancient ritual, repeated over hundreds of years, has endured while politicians and parties come and go.
We allow politics to govern our lives in a way the Eucharist does not. We allow politics to dictate our anxieties to us, to decide for us who we’ll associate with and who we’ll disown. All of which is another way of saying we’ve fashioned our political loyalties into an idol.
When we who are knit together in Christ’s sacrifice break fellowship over political differences, we have swallowed the lie that ballots matter more than the people who cast them.
When we who kneel at the altar of a crucified servant despair at our candidate’s defeat or gloat in his triumph, we’ve been duped by the propaganda that says it’s more important to win than to love.
Back in the sanctuary, as we lined up to receive the body and blood of Christ, the last of the voters outside were lining up to receive their sacraments, ballot and pen, by which they would pledge their political allegiance.
It may well be a valid thing to do. Many would call it our civic duty. I did mine earlier in the day. But it’s worth remembering: for all that our favorite politicians and parties promise, they deliver shockingly little, apart from another four years of anxiety and division.
When we line up to reaffirm our allegiance to Christ through holy communion, we are given something far greater in return. In the bread and wine, we receive the grace of God all over again. It is a grace that will not discriminate according to political affiliation, race, gender, orientation… and it will not allow us to do so, either.
God’s table is for everyone. That was far and away the best news I received on election night.