Category Archives: Devotions

The Communion of Saints and Election Day

November 7, 2022

Grace & peace to you in the name of our Savior Jesus!

Today is a unique day for followers of Jesus. Yesterday in worship, many Protestant congregations, we celebrated All Saint’s Day. November 1 is the actual date for All Saint’s Day. In many Protestant congregations, we acknowledge this holy day on the closest Sunday following Reformation Sunday.

Tomorrow, at least in the United States, we will celebrate Election Day.

On the surface, these two days seem very unrelated.

I invite us to look just a little below the surface and see that these two days share a lot in common.

As we sit in the day in between this year, we have a chance to give God thanks and praise for both –

For the saints in our lives who have died in the faith and join with the eternal cloud of witnesses.

And for the saints who felt called to place their names on a ballot in the hope of being elected to serve citizens in our communities, states, and nation.

I appreciated the overview of All Saint’s Day worship that was offered in one of our church’s worship resources yesterday. “Who are the saints, and what do they have to say to us? Rather than being perfect Christians, the saints are people who have been made whole by the grace of God, through baptism into Christ. The communion of saints is a diverse array of witnesses who remind us of God’s continuing faithfulness, past, present, and future.” [from]

If that is true, which I think it is, there are saints among us who are no longer with us in this world. Yes, even those who drove you crazy…are saints.

There are saints among us, walking with us in this world each day who drive us crazy in more ways than we can count…they are saints too.

And, there are also saints who are seeking public office in a variety of ways during tomorrow’s elections. Yes, even those who you didn’t vote for…are saints.

In the Small Catechism, Luther taught us that “This is most certainly true.”

The saints of our faith journey include God’s children like friends and parents, siblings and grandparents, co-workers and cousins, aunts and neighbors.

The saints of our faith journey also include God’s children like our city and county commissioners, state legislators and district court judges, city mayors, and even those who serve in the United States Congress. And, yes, even those whom we will never choose to vote for in an election, are saints.

On this day in between two days that celebrate the saints God places along our path, maybe we can take a few moments and give God thanks today for all the saints.

Who are some of the saints in your life that you are giving thanks for today???

Until next time, may Christ’s peace be with you always and in all ways…


Fog, Weight, & Gospel

As I was preparing a Saturday morning cup of coffee, I was struck by the view outside of my kitchen window. A thick layer of fog had engulfed the Missouri River valley and much of the city of Mandan. It gave me pause as I reflected upon the past week. A week in which I experienced the incredible weight we are called to carry as followers of Jesus. Weight that can sometimes make experiencing the gospel difficult to see through all the fog.

The fall meeting of the ELCA Conference of Bishops wrapped up on Friday afternoon. Our work as a conference during this meeting included care for our rostered ministers, conversations around our church’s sacramental theology, deep discernment about issues like racism that continues to infect our church and country, and work being done to create memorials that will offer support to victims of clergy sexual abuse.

As our time together concluded, I felt the weight of this call in the office of bishop.

On Thursday this week, our synod grieved the death of another pastor. The fifth death we have experienced in the Western North Dakota Synod in just the past few months. Children of God gathered in worship and experienced first-hand the weight of death and grief.

Sometimes our journey can feel heavy.

The weight can be overwhelming.

The fog so thick that we can’t possibly see a way forward.

Where is the gospel in all of this? Do I still even know what the gift of faith is all about?

In those times, we need to be reminded that Jesus is always beside us and saying to us, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Whenever I felt like the weight of this week was just too heavy to bear, I reminded myself that I wasn’t alone. That Jesus was with me all along. The burden didn’t feel quite so heavy then. The fog wasn’t quite as thick.

As bishops, we don’t do anything independent of the rest of our colleagues in the conference. An individual bishop doesn’t bear the weight of the entire church on their shoulders. By God’s grace, we do this together. As our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton reminded us again this week, “We are church, we are Lutheran, we are church together, and we are church for the sake of the world.”

As our synod gathered to grieve the death of the Rev. Donna Dohrmann this week, we didn’t walk that journey alone either. Donna’s family, and each of us who grieve, were surrounded by people of faith who prayed, sang, proclaimed the good news of resurrection promises, celebrated the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and commended our sister in Christ to God’s eternal care…together.

By the time I finished writing this blog post, the fog that had blanketed the Missouri River valley this morning had lifted. In much the same way that the weight of the past week began to lift a little too.

Please join me in prayer…

We pray for your grace, dear God, to listen attentively and share faithfully.

We pray for hearts and minds that are open to one another,

open to your truth,

and open to whatever you may be doing in our midst.

In the name of Jesus we pray.


(prayer written by Rev. Mark Gravrock, Montana Synod)