Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Politics and Jesus: A brief election day Eucharist sermon...

We live in a divided world. It is clear. Last week when the Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie applauded President Obama’s handling of the Hurricane Sandy aftermath, he was pounced upon by his own party, in effect claiming such as act treasonous in the midst of a presidential campaign. Americans increasingly live more partisan lives, watching the news they agree with... or attending a church whose beliefs are already in line with what they believe...

All too often we live our lives through a filter that seeks to keep us divided by labeling our opponents as enemies be they socialists, tea baggers, or heretics. In all of our discourse, we lose sight of the common good. We are more concerned with staying in power than what should be done to help the whole of our society. We appeal to selective readings of the Founding Fathers, political philosophers, and even Jesus, trying to take entire bodies of teaching and reducing them to soundbites and slogans to get people to pay attention. In so doing, we lose nuance and shades of gray, creating a caricatured world that only has black and white.

In reality, we fail to see that demolishing nuance and seeing only evil in our opponents rips apart our society, because we fail to uphold consistent schemes that bring life. Instead we live only in rancor, angst and paranoia. Living in brokenness is nothing other than living under the power of sin.

It is true that God gives human beings authority to order our common life together, but as fallen creatures, people captive to sin, our keeping of order is inherently broken and divided. No human governmental system will ever embody the complete righteousness of God in its totality. Only the Reign of God will do that. When Jesus inaugurates that Reign on earth in his incarnation, the worldly powers, both political and religious, rise up and kill him. To promise that the Reign is still to come, the Father raises Jesus from the dead. In the Reign of God, the powers of this world will come and lay their crowns, signs of their God-granted authority, at the foot of God’s throne.

The divisiveness of the world is countered by the unity we share in Christ Jesus. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, we find the promise of our ultimate hope. Not in any particular candidate or party, but in Jesus. In baptism we are united with him so that even the brokenness of sin that leads to death is promised to be overcome. No brokenness is too great for God.

As Christians we are bold to stand together in the midst of slogans and chants, witnessing instead to the one who makes us whole, reconciling one to another, all while risking the threat of being called traitors and enemies...

No matter who is elected president, Jesus is still Lord. Let us pray for all of our candidates and those elected today and let us with humility, gentleness and patience continue our witness to the end of our brokenness. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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