Even as President Barack Obama celebrates being re-elected, it's clear he faces the monumental task of leading a deeply divided nation. Though the president won a decisive number of the electoral votes, the popular vote told a different story. Voters split their ballots nearly evenly between the candidates: 50 percent for Obama, 48 percent for Mitt Romney.
As pastors sit down to write their Sunday sermons, many will be mulling the stark division in our nation. They will encounter feelings of relief and anxiety, hope and despair, apathy and anger—sometimes in the same congregation. We asked several pastors to share the gist of the message they will be preaching in light of the election results. We hope their insights will help you as you prepare for Sunday.
John Ortberg, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church: This Sunday I will give a call of prayer for our country and its leadership, and a call for civility in political conversations. Romney supporters: don't despair. Obama supporters: don't gloat. Remember, the office that matters most has already been permanently filled with a God of eternal omni-competence.
Andy Stanley, North Point Community Church: I decided to address the election in a podcast rather than a sermon. As we make personal and political decisions, we should never attempt to legislate the behavior of people who don't share our worldview. Criticizing others over their beliefs pushes them away. It's more important to make a difference than a point, and we've all seen people with opposing beliefs come together to make a difference. We must be willing to risk our credibility for the sake of influencing others. Don't take a stand on every hot-button issue. Jesus refused to answer questions that would damage his influence among the people.
Joel Hunter, Northland, A Church Distributed: My post-election (pun for those of us reformed in theology) sermon will center on Isaiah 2:3–5, beating swords into plowshares and ceasing preparation for war. These themes have national and personal implications for reconciliation. We must decide to forgive, cooperate, and build a better future for those we love. The power to do so comes not merely from a moral decision but from the in-breaking of the Eschaton.
Harry Reeder, Briarwood Presbyterian Church: Instead of addressing the election in a sermon, I will be conducting a post-election forum. I do not believe Christians should universally vote Republican or Democrat. But you saw two distinct worldviews in this election. One holds that small government should uphold justice and set people free to pursue their inalienable rights. The other view says that we should trust the government to do for us the things that God should do. They replace, "In God we trust," with, "In the State we trust." This election gave us a snapshot into the distribution of these conflicting worldviews. Therefore it provided insight into where we must strategically plant vibrant, evangelical churches: in major cities and among various minority communities. This election sharpens our focus on areas for which we need to pray and with which we need to engage as Christian citizens. We should go where people need to hear the gospel, not for the sake of Americanism—although I believe our republic was framed by the beliefs of the Reformation—but for the sake of the kingdom.
Alex Gee, Fountain of Life Church: I plan to deal with the election results gently. I am the pastor of a predominantly African American/multiethnic church, and I am African American as well. People want elected officials to relate to their constituents. For many African Americans, President Obama offers a sense of visibility where they have often felt unseen and unimportant in the dominant society. In Wisconsin we have already been divided over a recent recall attempt of our governor, Scott Walker. It's time for us to heal and to begin working together. As a pastor I think I can help with that process.