Discerning our blessings in times of presidential race, Cláudio Carvalhaes

  • A version of this text was published by Presby Outlook called Benedictory column – April 2016. This version has the help of Dr. Ken Sawyer.








Our country is in turmoil due to the intense political contest of the two presidential candidates and their proxies. We now can see divisions of class and race that have been hidden or denied in the past. As we move through this campaign season we have to realize that there is so much at stake in each decision and that we are responsible to and for another for the world we are creating. We need discernment, we need awareness, we need grace, we need wisdom and compassion, and to be discerning, to be aware, to be gracious, to be wise and compassionate. Our vote can be an expression of discernment, grace, wisdom, and compassion. Each vote can be a form of blessing as we bless people, forms of government, and yes, policy proposals. What is at stake now is not if one candidate is a better Christian than the other, but rather, who is looking at the world as Christians are called to look at the world, and Christians we are called to look at the world from the point of view of those in need, the vulnerable, the poor. As you shape your vote into a blessing, what and who are you going to bless? Here are some beatitudes — blessings —  I will be thinking about as I consider not only my vote, but my work for a better present for the poor and the vulnerable each day, between elections.


Blessed are those who resist voter suppression tactics,


Blessed are those who ask for donor lists


Blessed are those who continue to register people who have been excluded or deleted from voter rolls


Blessed are those who read and listen outside their preferred media outlet


Blessed are those who listen to people they do not agree with


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for a better world


Blessed are those who recognize that scientific knowledge is a gift of God


Blessed are those who see difference as a divine gift, not as a sinister threat


Blessed are those who know that faith must be our daily training and life


Blessed are those who pursue justice as a way toward love, and who do not deny justice in the name of love


Blessed are those who do not deny asymmetries of power in race and class


Blessed are those who vote in off-year elections


Blessed are those who focus on local issues and local candidates and local government


Blessed are those who work for the vulnerable, the poor, the invisible, the left-behind


Blessed are those who rejoice in good policy


Blessed are those who before casting their votes consider what is required by the gospel and the love of God and neighbor;


Blessed are those who have the gift of discernment and can test both spiritual and political spirits, in this spiritual and very concrete political war;


Blessed be those who struggle for a campaign system that is not purchased by private wealth, so that elected officials will represent the people and strive for the common good and not follow the agenda of private institutions;


Blessed are those who do not confuse “the good old days” with a romanticized time of prosperity, peace, and harmony that actually never existed;


Blessed are those who know what companies and institutions are supporting each candidate for this support will show where this country will lean towards;


Blessed are those who do not vote for those who represent the worldviews of the few billionaires and multinational corporations;


Blessed are those who know that ecology is one of the most important tenets of anyone’s government and that development cannot be done at the expense of the killing of the earth;


Blessed are those who are ashamed of walls that divide us and see these walls as signs of our sins and fears and hatred and not as protection;


Blessed are those who welcome the strangers;


Blessed are those who will demand their candidates to expand and not cut social services for the poor;


Blessed are those who are aware of the rampant racism that has plagued this nation for more than 300 years and consider it in the elections!


Blessed are those who know the plights and history of indigenous people and consider it in the elections;


Blessed are those who consider the women, the children, the disabled, the queer, the poor and all the outcasts of our society in their social policies!


Blessed are those who fight for the peace of the country knowing that the meaning of peace also means economic justice;


Blessed are those who do not want to continue with the endless history of war;


Blessed are those who are against austerity budget cuts in every state with the excuse that there is no other way to do things. We need discernment to see that these excuses are lies that intend to replace money from socially vulnerable people to the pockets of big business;


Blessed are those whose motivation is love, but whose focus is justice


Blessed are those who say “Black Lives Matter”


Blessed are those who can name victims by name


Blessed are those who fight cynicism as they fight false hope


Blessed are those who read foreign news sources


Blessed are those who read Reinhold Niebuhr, not just invoke his name


Blessed are those who are hungry


Blessed are those who are thirsty


Blessed are those who are homeless


Blessed are those who resist a 24 hour news cycle


Blessed are those who honor the calling to serve in public office


Blessed are those who are politically savvy and know that to engage in politics is not a choice but a demand of the gospel of Jesus Christ who demands us to love our neighbor and the least of these. And that love is translated in and through public policies.


May God help us in our process of discernment!


now add your own blessing…