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From Our Bishops

Bishop’s Opinion: September 2015

We are called to participate by voting

By Bishop Linda Nicholls

Bishop Linda NichollsIn the middle of summer, the Prime Minister called a federal election. Although not unexpected, we now find ourselves in the long campaign period to Oct. 19. It is a time of discernment for voters. We also frequently hear comments that politics and religion don’t or should not mix! What is our role as Christians and Anglicans within our country of Canada in the midst of an election?

Jesus was clear that the kingdom of God was not synonymous with earthly kingdoms. When asked about paying taxes, he declared, “Pay unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” Yet, we do participate in the nations of this world even as we are preparing ourselves for God’s kingdom. When in exile, the people of Israel were instructed by Jeremiah to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” We are to seek the welfare of the places where we live, to pray for them and to participate in seeking what will be good for all its citizens, for our own well-being is integrally tied to that of our communities’. We are to love our neighbour as ourselves – and remember that our neighbour is not just those who are like us. The story of the Good Samaritan subverts our assumptions about that neighbour and calls us out of our comfort zones!

We are invited to discern which candidates will govern our country in ways that nurture and support all her citizens and that participate in justice and peace in the world. We do that by bringing our values and commitments, which are formed by our faith, to that discernment. Politics and faith cannot be separate, for we weigh our decisions in the light of our understanding of human nature, of the nature of God, of God’s call to us and of a vision of community to be lived in justice and peace. Our faith does and ought to inform our choices, made for the good of all people. We are called to participate by voting, to share our voice in the discussions and debates, and to look past partisan loyalties to the needs of our country and the commitments offered by those standing for election.

As we approach this election, take time to consider your choices in light of our baptismal vows to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself; to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being; to strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation and respect, sustain and renew the life of the earth. We may well find ourselves supporting different candidates or leaders in this discernment as we adjudicate the balance needed in these challenging times. Healthy discussion and debate is critical. Which candidates will help our communities and country fulfill these commitments for the good of all God’s people?

Whichever party or people are elected, we are then called to pray for them. The responsibilities they carry are significant and need our support.

“LORD, keep this nation under your care. Bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth. Help us elect trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and thus serve you faithfully in our generation to the honour of your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord” (BAS page 678).

“ALMIGHTY God, the fountain of all wisdom: Guide and direct, we humbly beseech thee,
the minds of all those who are called at this time to elect fit persons to serve… Grant that in the exercise of their choice they may promote thy glory, and the welfare of this Dominion [or Province or Municipality]. And this we beg for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen” (BCP page 50).

Pray for the candidates, share in discussion and debate with an eye to our baptismal promises – and most importantly, vote on or before Oct. 19!