The local elections are behind us and there is a time to govern and a time to heal. Both are equally important. It is important to rally behind those people that have been elected and support them and see that they deliver on their promises. There is also is a time to forgive and heal from some of the wounds that have been incurred in the political campaigns.
I remember that when I came to this community over twenty years ago, a local resident gave me some political warning – “whatever you do Pastor, do not incur the wrath of Helen Marchetti. She is a powerhouse in this community.” I moved here from Chicago and I was familiar with the Daly machine and the aldermen of Chicago, so I was prepared for everything and anything. I went to a community meeting and there was Helen Marchetti, the powerhouse of this community. She was a sweet grandmother. I met her that day and I guess for the past 20 years, I have not done anything that would have brought her wrath over me!
This past week, there was another grandmother in Atlantic Highlands politics. Her name is Jane Froton. She was on the ticket, even though she was not running. We heard that she held a lot of power in local politics. If certain people won, she was going to do many things that would not go well for this community.
Then there was the Front Porch Club. They were not on the ballot, but they had their candidates on the ticket. The Front Porch Club unquestionably is an organization that has ideas, power, and connection in this town and they use that power when they see an opportune moment. In the past, the town has agreed with their choice of candidates. This time, those candidates were not voted into office.
As I was reading the various political advertisements, I remembered when I was on the local school board when I served at my the first church from 1977-1982. I walked to the board meeting and as I approached the door, a young lady came and said to me, “Rev. Stefan, do you see how many people are inside? It took me 15 minutes of telephone work!” I thanked her for her work, even though I was aware that there was a threat in her message – if I did not vote the way her friends wanted, she would make sure that I would not be elected again.
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Small communities are like small families that meet together for holidays such as Thanksgiving, when we give thanks to God for His blessings upon us. We have to be together for a few minutes as we say grace and share the turkey because, by pie time, the family is dispersed throughout the house and some are even in the backyard!
A number of years ago, I wrote a letter to someone from our denominational organization because I thought that the person did not have the authority to do what she did. I went to a meeting and we avoided one another. I went to another meeting and I did the same thing. By the third meeting I made a conscientious decision to go and greet her, talk with her, and move beyond my letter for we are both a part of the body of Christ.
The election is over. Some people may think that former mayor Fred Rast is the savior and others may have different words to describe his shift in party allegiance, but it is time to forgive and to move forward because we are indeed, as we proclaim, a great community. It important to remember that when this town gets reorganized on January 1, 2016, our elected officials should exhibit forgiveness and grace and then actualize the vision that will benefit the community, including those who have been defeated in the election. Grace is so important because on the first Sunday of the month, many of our elected officials will participate in the Eucharist or the Lord’s Table where they will hear “Forgive one another as I forgave you” and “Love one another as I loved you.” May we be a community in which we will exhibit that divine grace towards one another.