Thursday, October 25, 2018

We will vote. The Cross or Empire?



In two weeks, the citizens of our country will be given the opportunity to vote.  We are asked to engage in a sacred act that will express our individual thoughts, hopes, and aspirations.  This is a declaration of who we are and will determine who we are to become as a nation.  It is a privilege and a gift that we have cherished for more than 200 years and is a gift unavailable to many throughout the world.  We should not let this opportunity pass us by. As Christians, we are called by Jesus Christ to live our faith and place that sacred following before any other identity or allegiance. 

As followers of Jesus Christ we are faced with stark choices.  We must align the Gospel with our public witness and democratic rights. This is not a political statement. It is not an endorsement of any candidate or party.  Jesus compels a choice: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11:23).

I ask that you join me and compare the words, messaging and statements of the candidates and leaders and determine if they align with scripture and the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Begin with the Genesis and the remembrance that every person is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). The acknowledgment that we are the keeper of our brothers and sisters (Gen 4:9). Consider Deuteronomy, that God loves the orphan, the widow, and the stranger (10:17-19) and The Lord is the maker of both rich and poor (Proverbs 22:2).

Our faith is grounded in the mystery of the Word that became flesh.  Jesus was born into poverty, lived under the oppressive rule of an empire, and then lived and taught among the forgotten, the lost and the broken.  We cannot deny that there is an inseparable bond between Jesus and the poor and the sick.  When people were hungry, his words were clear “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37). Jesus held every human being so sacred that he even broke with societal and religious customs to honor the dignity of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42).

Jesus did not harm, isolate or abandon any person he encountered. Those that left his side or his teachings did so by their own choice.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  His life, death and resurrection provide liberation, hope and the promise of a new Kingdom for the successful business person, the immigrant who serves our meals, the teachers who give of their lives and the addicted who feel despair. As Christians in a democratic society this should be our guiding principle.  There are no exceptions or rationalizations. 

As Christians, we must discern prayerfully and reject any policy that exploits, excludes, oppresses, marginalizes, or is unjust. We are called to exemplify the way of Jesus Christ.  We are not merely dealing with structures, politics or policies. Each institution and system is comprised of sisters and brothers that share in our common journey and humanity.  There are no differences unless we create differences.  Thus, it should afflict the heart of every Christian if just one person suffers or is marginalized.  It should cause us pain if one child lives in poverty, if a woman is abused. If one person is rejected because of who they love, or we create a society where one person is treated unjustly because of the color of their skin.  The basis of our moral thought and belief is the inherent and God-given dignity of every human being.  

I will be remiss if we do not challenge the church.  The church is the living body of Christ.  No longer must we be satisfied with the status quo.  We must redouble our efforts to live as Christ lived.  So open wide the doors of our sanctuaries. Step out courageously into the world to liberate the poor, tend to the sick, feed the hungry, draw close to the lonely, comfort the hurting.   Let us create a church that is not simply a place of welcome, but a place of belonging for all the world.  In short, we cannot just preach the Gospel, we must be the Gospel. 

On November 6th you will have the chance to cast your vote.  I invite you to listen carefully, compare the messages and policies to the words of Jesus Christ. Place aside political parties and place Jesus Christ at the center of your heart. Will it be the cross? Please vote and vote your faith.  


Let us create a society, a country, a faith where everyone belongs. 

2018 Convention Eucharist. Sermon

Good Shepherd, always beside us; your rod and staff our comfort, your cross ever before us as our guide. Loving Shepherd, may I sing yo...