October 2016 Newsletter
September 29, 2016, 8:53 AM

Grace and peace y’all! I hope your September was wonderful and the cooler weather that has moved in as we begin October allows us all to enjoy and be a part of God’s creation even more!

I debated on whether-or-not to write something like this, knowing full well that there will be those who don’t like it, there will be those who will understand, and there will be those who wonder what the fuss might be about. But, I’m going to do it. I’m going to talk about politics…

The mere mention of that word and this topic makes my hair stand on end. However, I wanted to approach this in a way that is a little different than what you might expect. Take note I’m not going to, nor would I ever, tell you to vote for one candidate or issue over another. I don’t do that. I won’t do that.

As we (quickly) approach Election Day on November 8th, I wanted to lift up a view that Martin Luther had involving the role of a Christian in politics. He advocated an idea that has traditionally been termed, ‘The two kingdoms.’ As Darrell H. Jodock says in his (excellent) article called Lutherans & Politics: The ‘two kingdoms’ and putting the news of others first in an issue of The Lutheran (now Living Lutheran) from October 2012. He states that the ‘two kingdoms’ moniker might be a little misleading. He advocates that we should instead translate Luther’s views as the “two governances of God” or the “two ways God influences the world.”

Luther’s idea is that God works in two ways in ordering our lives throughout the world. On one hand, God works through the gospel to overcome estrangement, suffering, and more to bring people into relationship with God. This of course is done through the living out of our faith as we have all promised to do when we were baptized and when we affirmed our baptisms (our new hymnals – Evangelical Lutheran Worship - makes these promises very clear on pages 228 and 236). 

On the other hand, God works through authorities and structures to create the kind of order that allows humans to flourish. These structures include the role of the government in all its aspects – elected officials, police, transportation, safety boards, and more. God has created both ‘kingdoms/governances’ for our well-being. They both come from God.

So, how then do we ‘vote’ as a Christian? First and foremost is that we vote.  Period. We include ourselves into the life of this kingdom/governance so that God can (and will) continue to work to enact justice, safety, and well-being to all those within a government’s jurisdiction. We get to be a part of that. This is a gift given to us by God. Please vote.

Voting one way or another does not make you more Christian, or more faithful, or more of a disciple than someone who votes differently from you. We are all the body of Christ and God continues to shower us with grace and mercy no matter which box we check, arrow we fill in, or button we push on Nov. 8th.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

In that same issue of The Lutheran (I have copies of the article in my office and I’d be more than happy to let you read it), there is a wonderful study guide as well. In it Pastor Robert Blezard of Trinity Lutheran Church in Arendstville, PA gives us nine exercises that one should use as she or he approaches Election Day. I’ll lift a few of those exercises up:

Let righteousness roll down – Amos 5: 1-24 is a poignant piece of scripture to read that shows us how humanity truly operates and opens us to God’s re-ordered priorities. How is Amos’ call for justice reflected in our lives and in those who we elect?
Thou shall not lie – The eighth commandment tells us not to lie, which during the political season seems to get thrown out by all political parties through a myriad of half-truths and untruths. How are we holding up this commandment as we speak on issues and candidates with our friends, family, and others?
Love your neighbor – We are called by Christ to love our neighbors. Our neighbors are people of different (or no) faiths, different races, different political parties, difference economic levels, and different lifestyles. How is our call to love our neighbor reflected in our lives and voting?
Tone it down – We don’t teach our children to call others names or use language that is hurtful toward others. We normally put a stop to that kind of behavior. Yet, for many in political debates this is par for the course. One can have political discussions without resulting to word fights.

So, on November 8th, vote. But, before you vote be in conversation with scripture, in prayer with God, and in study over issues and candidates. Be in dialogue with others as well. I’ve discovered in my own conversations that the political ‘divide’ between two people is never as great as others make it out to be. Those conversations are and can be fruitful, faith-filled, and relationship deepening. If they continue to be honest conversations and not word fights filled with the sort of rhetoric many of our political leaders practice.

We have been given a wonderful gift by God – that is to be an active part of this ‘kingdom’ that God has given us. So, go and be a part of it.

If you would like a copy of the article by Mr. Darrell H. Jodock or the study guide, stop by the office and I’ll be more than happy to give you a copy!


Love y’all. Mean it.

-     pm

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