When kingdoms rise and wane, Christ is our peace

from http://electiondaycommunion.org/

Consider these words from Ephesians 2:

14 Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. 15 He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. 16 He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God.

17 When he came, he announced the good news of peace to you who were far away from God and to those who were near. 18 We both have access to the Father through Christ by the one Spirit. 19 So now you are no longer strangers and aliens. Rather, you are fellow citizens with God’s people, and you belong to God’s household. 20 As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 The whole building is joined together in him, and it grows up into a temple that is dedicated to the Lord. 22 Christ is building you into a place where God lives through the Spirit.

It’s finally over. A presidential campaign that started years ago is FINALLY!!!! over. I reached my limit of partisan bickering before the party faithful gathered in Tampa and Charlotte to spin their candidates. And I tried, really, I tried, to let a lot of the politics go, and to think about issues of justice, prosperity and peace.

It was not fun.

If you’re just stumbling onto my blog, you might not know that I voted for President Obama. You might have figured out that I was not a Republican iconoclast (perhaps my being female and a pastor clued you in on that one!), and that I leaned towards peace rather than war. You might also have figured out that I care deeply about the healthcare needs of the poor and disenfranchised. Somewhere along the line, you may have discovered that I am so proud of my family and am close to being a crazy cat lady. These are still all true. Mostly. 🙂

Since I am a woman called to preach the Gospel, I believe part of my Calling is to share the reality that life as we know it on this earth is not “the final answer.” And to remind myself on a regular basis that Who or What I put my trust in determines more than how high my tax rates go, or what my children’s schools will be like.

It is an ongoing battle between my personal convictions and deep sense of humility. God invites me to be a partner in ministry. There is nothing more wonderful or more challenging.

I have friends and former classmates who are (still) convinced that our President is a Muslim and was not born in Hawaii. No amount of Snopes.com articles or commentary by conservative pundits will convince them. I know people who live in “red” and “blue” states who voted for the opposite candidate. I have friends, gay and straight, who had very firm hopes for the voting outcomes of Marriage Equality issues in Maryland, Maine and Minnesota.

There are still some outstanding issues from this election cycle that concern me. Either they were skimmed over by the presidential candidates, or they did not get serious debate by anyone. They bother me.

  • I am concerned about the gerrymandered district I live in (Maryland’s Question 5) which was created for no other reason than to get another Democrat-leaning House district.
  • I am concerned about an increase in legalized gambling (Maryland’s Question 7). No, you can’t “legislate morality” but the arguments used in favor of expanding gambling put some of the financially vulnerable among us in a tempting place.
  • I am concerned about global warming and how we will adapt our energy politics to reflect a changing ecosystem.
  • I am concerned about the process and funding for health insurance for all of us. It may mean that the more financially stable among us may have to pay for more. (A side note to my elected representatives in Congress – can you really continue your partisan bickering about health care when you have the most “diamond-encrusted” health benefits of any of us?)
  • Finally, I am concerned about the incredible amounts of money spent in advertising during this election season. Really, I can’t even imagine money with these high numbers! My paltry contribution, added with yours of course, does not begin to equal the “big check writers” for both sides of the campaign. I am moved to pray that we not become a national where “wealth equals winner” for any decision-making process. (If this is something that has not concerned you, take a visit to the FEC website. Click around a little. And pray…)

Last night I posted on “Spacehook” (as one of my RevGal friends calls it) that I was watching the results and praying. A couple of friends noted that they were praying for things to go “the other way.” Blessings upon The Johnnie, who reminded us that “praying doesn’t have directionality.” She is right. Our prayers don’t “change God’s mind.” Rather, they are a way for us to lean into God’s will in a situation.

God is bigger than an election cycle, a cancer diagnosis, or a relationship crisis. May I remember that, and seek to follow the wind of the Spirit, not the emotional turmoil of humanity’s ambitions.

Is it all pointless?

A couple of my more cynical friends have written comments such as these:

“This bickering is pointless.”
“Why do we re-hash the same arguments?”
“I heard these same arguments four years ago. Has nothing changed?”

As we near the end of another presidential election cycle (Thank you, GOD! It is almost over!) I confess to feeling the same way. There is still legislative gridlock. There are people with enormous amounts of money who are buying the airwaves with jacked up claims about the other candidate or the ballot initiative. There are phone calls ad nauseum, filling our voicemail. It used to just be calls every evening from “Rachel from card services” with a fake “lower your credit card interest rate” offer. Now it’s this PAC or that.

Ugh.

Add to the drama are the ads asking “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” (As if the political system would be the reason? How about my own hard work and motivation? The support of my family and my church?)

Somehow, I think we are asking the wrong questions. Or we aren’t looking at common sense answers.

I was reminded of these words from Ecclesiastes 1:

1 The words of the Teacher of the Assembly, David’s son, king in Jerusalem:

Perfectly pointless, says the Teacher, perfectly pointless.
Everything is pointless.

What do people gain from all the hard work
that they work so hard at under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains as it always has.
The sun rises, the sun sets;
it returns panting to the place where it dawns.
The wind blows to the south,
goes around to the north;
around and around blows the wind;
the wind returns to its rounds again.
All streams flow to the sea,
but the sea is never full;
to the place where the rivers flow,
there they continue to flow.
All words are tiring;
no one is able to speak.
The eye isn’t satisfied with seeing,
neither is the ear filled up by hearing.
Whatever has happened—that’s what will happen again;
whatever has occurred—that’s what will occur again.

There’s nothing new under the sun. 10 People may say about something: “Look at this! It’s new!” But it was already around for ages before us. 11 There’s no remembrance of things in the past, nor of things to come in the future. Neither will there be any remembrance among those who come along in the future.

Sometimes these words are read as being cynical and angry, of a person who has given up on God. I see them quite differently.

If we wrap our lives around our sinful, disjointed selves, then yes – life does become “pointless.”

However, if we choose to live past our circumstances, to see the God who brings the sun to rise and set, the winds to rise and fall, the seasons to come and go, then there is hope. There is courage. There is a reason to press on and shine hope, peace and joy in the world.

When I re-read Eccleasiastes over the weekend, it reminded me that I can easily choose the hipster path of cynicism and frustration. Or I can choose to pour life and light into those around me.

This weekend we went to see The Johnnie in a local regatta. I enjoyed time with my husband and daughters. I saw the Creator’s hand in the leaves, the water, the trees, the sunset. I was refreshed and renewed. A day away from media and the hype was a good thing!

Do I still get frustrated with the partisan hacks growling accusations at each other? Most certainly. Do I have a few choice words that I mutter under my breath at a trumped up political ad? Yeah. I’m human.

However, I remember the God of hope. The God of redemption. The God of peace. And I will choose to pitch my tent there.

P.S. A few pictures from our day at the Head of the Occoquan regatta yesterday:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.