Summary: It’s politics-time....for whom do you vote?
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: ‘What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David.’ He said to them, ‘How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?’ No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. NRSV
In this current political season all the news shows are overwhelmingly all about the presidential election and money. Both major party candidates cannot say anything without using the words that surround the economy. Newscasters monitor the stock market 24/7. I get the feeling that if the Martians landed this afternoon the breaking story would have to wait until after the Dow-Jones report was done.
Here are some words mentioned on CNN one day last week in only 90 seconds: Taxes, prices, gas, groceries, Jobs, renewable energy, invest, billion, money, spend, healthcare cost, wasting money, providing, education, compete, cost, rebuild, economy, opportunity…and that was a sports report….(just kidding).
I go to sleep at night only to dream of monster-sized budget spread sheets all in red. My nightmare includes bank foreclosure notices tacked on my drycleaners and favorite McDonalds. Even my dog wants to know who I’m going to vote-for, and if the new president will make things better. We had a repair man here this week; he couldn’t help talking about the election and economy. He told me he was scared to death about what will happen. Just as he was writing-out our bill for fixing the folding machine (putting a dent in OUR economy), Eric pulled up to deliver some heating oil for the church. Said the repair man, Look, here comes a load of gold! I told Eric about it and he told me: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about getting an armed guard to ride with me!
All of us try to make light of the situation; nervous jokes abound, but the truth of the matter is we are traveling in uncharted waters economically, and it is a serious worldwide economic crisis. When you throw-in presidential politics on top of the economic mess, it begins to border on the unbearable…especially if you’re a news junkie like me!
The questions we all ponder probably boil down to two main issues:
a. What’s going to happen?
b. For whom should I vote?
I cannot answer either question definitively – the first one because I am not a prophet, and I do not own a crystal ball. The second, about the person that ought to be elected, is open to my opinion, but closed-off from this pulpit because of our status as a tax-exempt charitable organization (Can we all say "501C3"?).
Now, this does not mean we are going to remain silent about the election. I understand very well the rules the IRS maintains concerning our non-profit status. The IRS rules prohibit us from engaging in partisan political activities; we cannot say “vote for this one or that one”. However, we are constitutionally-assured of the free exercise of religion. As that applies to presidential elections, I am free legally and morally to interpret from this pulpit what our faith teaches about what kind of person makes for a Godly public servant. So, to restate that, I cannot talk about WHO should be elected, but I can lay out WHAT KIND of person a Christian should look for to lead from the oval office.
A Caution for Christians
We are being constantly hammered with the idea that the most important item on everyone’s agenda is the economy…money! The politicians echo the news media; the political scientists shake their heads up and down and the populace of America all nod in agreement like we’re fixed in a trance…of course it’s “issue #1” – it’s the economy, stupid.
Let me depart slightly from the trance. The economy is an important issue…we need to straighten that out. But, compared to the real issue #1, the economy is a side-issue at best. The greatest issue at stake in the November election is how we as a nation will respond to our Creator. That’s not unique and particular to the election of 2008; that’s ALWAYS issue #1!