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Worship and Election Day

United Methodists and others are beginning to organize a variety of opportunities for worship in connection with the upcoming November elections in the United States.

Some are beginning to plan ecumenical "Election Eve" services on November 5 as occasions to gather communities across multiple denominational (and party!) lines to pray together. I've been asked to offer a model for such a service.

The best model I can think of, for historical and ecumenical reasons, as well as because it is widely shared across multiple denominations, is Evening Prayer. United Methodists have excellent resources for designing a rich service of Evening Prayer that other denominations could easily recognize and be able to share. See The United Methodist Hymnal (878-879), The United Methodist Book of Worship (564-576), or The Upper Room Worshipbook (14-20). In addition to the biddings listed for the Prayers of the People in each of these services, one might add a prayer for the upcoming elections themselves. Here is an example.

For faithful citizenship, for access to vote for all who seek it, for a fair and complete tally, and for the unity of our communities, states and nation, we pray to you, O God... Christ, have mercy.

Others are joining a fairly rapidly growing movement to offer a service of Word and Table after the polls have closed, as a sign and pledge of our unity in Christ, whatever our diversity at the polls. For more information on this, and the opportunity to let others know you are doing this, see ElectionDayCommunion.org.

I've also been asked to suggest an order of worship for such a service. Again, since the point of this gathering is not to call attention to the occasion per se, but rather to help us be the body of Christ together, I would recommend using the most widely used form of our Service of Word and Table -- Word and Table I (UMH 6-11).

Many of our congregations will have used the readings for All Saints on November 4, and so will have skipped the readings actually assigned for that day. So a Tuesday evening service might be a great time to allow your congregation and others in your area to hear what they may have missed. The readings for November 4, 2012, are Ruth 1:1-18, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:11-14, and Mark 12:28-34. You may use our Lectionary Planning Helps, focusing on the November 4 readings, to help you develop an Election Eve celebration that also prepares your congregation(s) for the coming Sunday. And as you do, you may also find some of our prayers and other resources for elections helpful.

Whenever and however you gather as communities of Jesus Christ in light of the coming elections, may you find ways, amidst any political differences, to embody and celebrate the reality that he has broken down every dividing wall of hostility, and may the peace of Christ, surpassing all human understanding, radiate through your hearts and lives.

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