by Lee Hull Moses
I was at a meeting of local clergy last week when conversation turned to the upcoming election. One of my colleagues (Frank Dew, for those of you who know him), used a phrase I hadn’t heard before. He said that being in engaged in the politics of our time is good “stewardship of our citizenship.”
There’s an intriguing notion: stewardship of our citizenship. We talk about stewardship a lot – it’s a very churchy word that basically means taking good care of what we have. We talk about stewardship of the earth, taking care of God’s creation. We talk about stewardship of our church building, maintaining it well so it can be put to good use for our community. We talk about stewardship of our resources and we make financial gifts to the church and other organizations doing good work.
But stewardship of our citizenship? I’ve been thinking about that all week.
I know that most of us are fed up with politicians and feeling cynical about the whole political process. But I think that’s exactly why we ought to be engaged – the whole point of a democracy is that if we don’t like how the government is working, we can change it. But it doesn’t happen on its own. We the people have to make it happen.
This is not unrelated to our faith life, by the way. We just finished spending several weeks with the letter of James, who reminds us that our calling as Christians is to put our faith into action, to be “doers of the word, and not just hearers.” Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t give us permission to withdraw from the world – in fact, quite the opposite. Being a follower of Jesus demands that we pay attention to the needs of our neighbors, and more often than not, the needs of our neighbors are directly affected by the politics and the policies of our government. Staying engaged is faithful, and it’s good stewardship of our citizenship.
So: If you aren’t registered to vote yet, it’s not too late, but you need to register before next Friday, October 12. Here’s how to register.
The polls open for early voting on October 17. Here’s a list of locations and schedules. How about getting a group of friends to go to early voting together and go out for ice cream afterwards? (If you do this, invite me!) Or there’s early voting places open on Sunday, October 28. Why don’t we take the church bus?
If you like voting on Election Day itself (I do – I like going to our neighborhood precinct and running into people I know), then put November 6 on your calendar right now. Not sure where to vote? You can find out here, and also look at a sample ballot.
Not sure what or who to vote for? Here’s a voter guide that introduces all the candidates in every race. If you’re not sure what district you’re in, you can find out here.
This year, there are also a number of amendments to the North Carolina constitution. These are a little complicated (and sort of boring, to be honest), but they’re really important, so do take some time to learn about them. Don’t wait until election day, because the summaries of the amendments that will appear on the ballot will not give you enough information to make an informed decision. If you need help with this, email me and I’ll point you toward some good resources.
Want to do more than just vote? Find a candidate you like and volunteer with their campaign. Talk to your neighbors about the amendments on the ballot. Start a conversation at your office about making sure everyone has an opportunity to go vote on election day.
The right to vote, the right to have a say in how we are governed, is a gift. Just like the gift of creation, the gift of life, the gift of our resources, we ought not to take it for granted. Instead, let’s be good stewards of our citizenship and put our faith into action. It’s good for us, it’s good for our neighbors, and I’m pretty sure it’s what Jesus would do, too.