So do you ever take your own advice? Part of me thinks that preachers are probably more guilty of not taking their own advice than just about anybody. Maybe someone beats us out…but even the most obvious of examples – therapists, teachers, politicians – still probably do a better job than we do.
I try very hard not to ever say who I am voting for. You may disagree but I think that’s a personal thing and not something that should be blasted from the pulpit. There’s also perhaps a hesitation on my part because I don’t feel like debating my beliefs with everyone that could have a problem with them. I vote both ways. Nope, I am not one of those people that just checks the straight party line button at the beginning of the ballot and even for that, some of you are scratching your heads and thinking what’s wrong with me.
Now by saying that, I am not saying that politics don’t enter my sermons more often than not. I just can’t seem to help it and I probably should apologize both to the congregations in this district and to my students because I’m sure they get tired of hearing about issues of human trafficking, hunger, relief for families, homelessness and legislation around that, and other stuff that I just can’t not say something about. So if you ask me if my sermons are political, I wouldn’t want to say yes because I’m not saying “Vote for ????” but I don’t think that we as Christians can just sit on the sidelines on all of these things either.
I know, I know. I can hear the give to Caesar, what is Caesar’s saying in the back of my head or the much misused “the poor are always with us.” Mike actually created a political add 2 years ago before the last presidential election when the Caesar saying came up in the lectionary. Here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aanw_AUw1vc
Thankfully he found it. You would not believe how many crazy things pop up when you youtube Jesus political ad. It was pretty much just talking about how anything can be misconstrued and used for “the other side” in this crazy time of awful political ads.
But see that’s the thing. As much as I want people to vote and I ask my students if they’ve done their absentee ballots or if they’re going home to vote and I dragged my sick self to the polls yesterday, there’s part of me that was just overwhelmed by all the sheer negative gunk that has been happening. There’s part of me that doesn’t know who to vote for because the cynical side of me says it doesn’t matter because as soon as they get to Washington they’re all going to be the same anyway. No one wants to work with the other. Nobody seems to care that lives are being lost not just at war but right here with jobs being lost and people not able to put food on the table. It’s just so incredibly frustrating.
I’d like to think if we all banded together and held all of our representatives accountable to putting some of these power things aside and actually moving forward on some of the urgent issues of our country then we could make something happen. But, I know that we (us regular folk) wouldn’t agree on what those are either. It’s hard to make anything work when people are so polarized.
But I can’t spout off to people that we have to vote – that men and women have fought for our right to vote, that many of us couldn’t have voted 100 years ago, that we can’t just sit back and say we don’t like it and yet do nothing to change it – and not vote. So I did. Did all of “my” folks get elected? Maybe not. But do I think we need to pray for the ones that did? Heck yes I do. Because no matter if “our” people got elected or not – they need to all be “our” people and in our prayers. Because we need some leaders with wisdom and integrity and passion to lead the way. We can’t just sit around saying how awful everything is and demonizing people without honestly and urgently being in prayer for our world, our nation, our state, our communities – our leaders.
Nobody ever wins. One “side” may “win” this year but then a couple years down the road it will flip and over and over again. Politics is politics and the cycle continues but we as the church cannot keep sitting back and let our representatives duke it out in Washington while we just sit back home and go about our day to day. We have got to be involved. We’ve got to be advocates for the least of these. We’ve got to not just protest and rally and yell at each other, but actually have dialogue with each other. Let’s face it – we may not always change each others minds, but at least as we talk about it we can say – “Hey, so and so isn’t a complete moron, and they believe in this person, or issue, or cause…maybe I can’t or shouldn’t make blanket stereotypical statements about them.”
I don’t know. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I just want something different. Maybe I’m just sick of it from both “sides.” At a campus ministers meeting last week we were talking about this and how people want to use their faith to defend why they vote a certain way. One person told about a t-shirt slogan that she has that says, “Jesus loves all of us, but I’m his favorite.” Jesus loves each of us, but I’m his favorite. FYI – beep, beep, beep – Public Service Announcement here – There’s no political party that’s his favorite. That doesn’t mean that we don’t exercise our right to vote. That doesn’t mean we don’t educate ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we don’t advocate and support when we see fit. But no “side” is his favorite.
So I took my own advice and voted yesterday. I hope that I can continue to back that up. That’s part of my reason for writing this. If I write it down and I put it out there, even if just 2 of you read it, then I have to hold myself accountable to not demonizing folks and to praying for our leaders. I have to hold myself accountable to trying to do the best I can to bring about change in this world for the kingdom of God whether that is by baby steps along the way or standing up for things even when it’s not popular. I have to hold myself accountable to being a Christ follower first and foremost and to let my heart and discernment guide me throught the rest.