It’s no exaggeration to suggest that this election may be the most important referendum on the soul of a nation as we’ve had in living memory. The New York times agreed and many have pointed out that the rise of undemocratic nationalism, the abridgment of civil liberties in both rhetoric and practice, and the tacit approval of racist, misogynist, antisemitic, and xenophobic action has permeated the highest levels of government, up to and including the office of President. It has also done so in too many countries across the globe.
There have been a few countries that have turned away from the terrifying rising fascism. France averted a take over by neo-nazis in elections last year. But Brazil just handed power to an army captain who lauded the military dictatorship and the detention of the thousands of political prisoners Brazil kept during that time. In short, as we consider our country and some of the same forces at work here, this is no time for people of faith to stay home or stay silent.
Our faith is about breaking the hold of idols, and I can name quite a few that we need to purge from our hearts. The worship of power, and the idolatrous hope that by worshiping a person in power that you will somehow become powerful is warping our Christian view. Followers of Jesus are meant to see the needs of the most vulnerable as the problem to solve. Worshipers of power shift the focus to “my needs only,” and “me and mine first!” The most afflicted add chillingly, “by any means necessary.”
That way lies madness. Events of the last week prove that “by any means necessary” has and will bring death. Not metaphorical, not abstract, but bone-and-blood-in-synagogues-and-grocery-stores death; Blood on our borders at the hands vigilantes fighting against unarmed and desperately poor hopeful immigrants and their children. These people are of no threat except to those in power who will twist the narrative to keep themselves on top.
This is a blasphemous subversion of everything Jesus taught in his life and everything he went to a cross in order to save. This week, I urge you to vote for the candidate of your choice, but to CHOOSE WISELY. We must choose not for our immediate gratification, but for who can stem the tide of violence. Coming out with a weak press release about “deploring” and “our thoughts and prayers,” etc, are no match for actual ability to effectively govern and pull us out of the societal moral tailspin in which too many are reveling.
Jesus cared for these things: that lepers, bleeding women, children, blind men, and the lame should have health care and be restored to the community. Jesus cared that people not cheat others, or make a profit off of religious faith, nor cynically pretend to support good things in the day while dismantling them at night.
Jesus cared that people who had done wrong be given a new chance, and that those who are not very powerful be welcomed by Go–and others– as if they, too, were part of the 1% with enough money to buy respect they otherwise could not earn. Jesus cared that his house be a house of prayer for all nations, not a sectarian theme park for the privileged but sacrilegious majority.
To be blunt, actions matter to Jesus. Words are cheap. And politicians will be spewing a lot of them at us in the next few days. So, people of God, do your homework. Fact check every candidate every time. Do not vote on what they say, but see where they actually put their treasure. If it isn’t in the same place that Jesus has put his–in the heart of the poor struggling and sick, in the hope of children seeking a promised future, in the baggage of the refugee or immigrant; if their actions don’t take you to the care of the least, the lowest and the last as their first priority; and if they do not condemn and actively turn others aside from violence, disrespect, and the outright hatred of others, you will know they are not on a Jesus path.
Regardless of our political party or the personal gain we might have in popularity or finances, if we vote for those who do not love the things Jesus (and every other spiritual teacher) has loved, I fear the soul of our generous and open nation will be crippled in more of the violence and fear that has been manufactured for us by idolators in our midst.
So do not sit home, do not vote ignorantly, do not fail to insist on the same care for others as you would expect for yourself. And by so doing may we strive to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and strength for the good of all. For Christ’s sake, friends: let us stop the violence and turn from wicked ways.
In hope and in peace,
P.S.: If you or someone you know needs a ride to their polling place, Union Church staff and volunteers will make sure you have a ride. Please call to reserve at 986-3725.
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