Some time ago, one of my readers sent me a private message asking if I would discuss whether Pastors, Rabbis, Priests should address current political issues when teaching or preaching to the gathered faithful. Although I know what I think about this, I was curious about my FB friends’ views. So I asked. A wide variety of friends and family commented. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that there were times when responses got a tad heated.
One man whom I’ve known for about forty years said that he left a church because of this very thing. The congregation was always told what they should care about in politics and what actions they should take.
No one likes to be told what to think or how to vote. One person suggested that:
“If it is brought up, it should be done in a way that is not partisan and focuses on the theological/pastoral arguments for a policy in broad terms.”
Many church denominations have an appointed lectionary, which lists the daily and weekly lessons for worship, study, and devotional use. In the Lutheran church, we have a reading from the Old Testament, from the Psalms, from the New Testament, and one of the four Gospels. Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Byzantine Christians, Jews, and many denominations have their lectionaries. Those texts teach us the faith – the faith passed down through the generations. If our teachers and preachers expound on those texts faithfully, we will get a rich background in what scripture teaches.
In the Christian church, this coming Sunday is the first in the season of Advent. There are four Sundays in Advent, and they are the start of the new church year. They lead us to Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Of Him, we teach and confess that He is the Son of God, True God and True Man, born of the Virgin Mary.
If we belong to a liturgical church and learn the liturgy and listen to the lessons of scripture and the thoughtful preaching or teaching on the text, we will learn some things about what God loves and what is an abomination to God.
If the only thing a teacher or preacher talks about is politics, we will not learn the fundamental answer of who and whose we are.
The ten commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai talk about how we should live, how we should treat others, what defines our relationship with the creator of the world.
If we learn those things and take those laws of God to heart, then we will grow the vision to see what God expects of us. If we pay attention to the scripture lessons, we won’t need to be told that it is wrong to kill babies. If we pay attention to the scripture lessons, we will know that voting for Hitler is evil.
Some of my friends have been driven away from places of worship. Some of my friends have minimal connection to places of worship. If you have also been burned, I invite you to try again.
Read scripture, find a place to worship God, start listening to what is said, and read from scripture. Start connecting the dots.
Believing in God doesn’t make everything rosy. It doesn’t make us impervious to hardship, illness, sin, or death. The taxman still comes. Work still demands our attention. Sometimes we discover that believing in God will pinch and require us to rethink who we plan to vote for, what proposal we work to get made into law.
On the other hand, it provides the tools to navigate the twists and turns of life. It places our story in the broader historical tapestry of the children of God. We were created, loved, and called upon to share that love with others. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy. So we start with baby steps:
- Start with being kind.
- Start with telling the truth.
- Start with simple thoughtfulness
- Hold the door
- Offer a ride
- Help someone in need
- Invite someone to dinner
When someone asks for prayers, say some. They don’t need to be eloquent – they need to be said.
Read and listen and think about what you can do this day to follow the Lord of Life.