A Caucus Prayer

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!”
(Isaiah 31:1 (ESV))

Last night I had the privilege of opening our local Caucus meeting with prayer.  I knew this wasn’t an opportunity to preach a sermon, and I didn’t want to campaign for a particular candidate or cause – but there was something on my heart that needed to be said. 

I’ve heard it again and again, “This is the most important election our nation has faced!”  Really?!?  I’ll admit that this is an important election.  Our nation stands at a crossroads; financially, philosophically, politically.  The election of the next president will advance the nation one way or another.  But does the election of a president really have that much bearing on the future of our nation?  In the proper balance of powers, the executive office is just one of three, and our legislative and judicial branches are equally important in determining the direction of the country.

I think what frustrates me most, and what I wanted to communicate last night in my prayer, is that as a Christian, our sense of security and purpose in life should not at all depend upon who sits in the Oval Office, but rather, who is seated on the throne in heaven.  Our hopes and fears are not met in the perfect political candidate, but in the sinless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Contrary to popular belief, America is not the Kingdom of God.  As Christians, we are called to be good citizens, and we may love and serve our nation patriotically.  But we possess dual citizenship.  For we are also citizens of a great Kingdom, a heavenly realm, with Christ as our Lord and Savior.

So I’ll say this from the onset, and it will bear repeating throughout this election cycle: It matters not who is elected, for God is on His throne, and all is right in Heaven.  Be active and informed citizens.  Cast an informed and faithful ballet.  But regardless of the outcome, do not let your hearts be troubled.

Here is the prayer from last night.

Sovereign and gracious God, you are the God of all nations, in your providence and wisdom you cause nations to rise and fall, in the light of your wisdom you guide us through times of abundance and times of want; we thank you for your guiding hand which has lead us in our pilgrimage, and for your graciousness that has blessed our land.  Keep us ever mindful of those in this world who do not share such blessing and live under tyrannical oppression; may your justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Almighty God, we thank you for our freedom – given in your grace, secured in your Son Jesus Christ, and defended by the generations who have gone before us – our freedom to gather in peaceful assembly tonight to choose delegates to represent us and to speak to the nation regarding the field of candidates in our upcoming presidential election.  Grant that those who are chosen tonight may be guided by your wisdom, and faithfully represent the people whom they serve.

We confess that too often we tend to trust in the strength of our candidates and elected officials rather than in your Almighty hand; our sense of security and provision depends on whether our political party is in power; and we forget that we depend on you for our daily bread.  Teach us to trust in you, and in you alone, for our safety, our security, our liberty, and our happiness in life.  Raise up for our nation men and women who, in humility and gratitude, will serve you as they serve this state and this nation.  We lift before you our president, and all who have been elected to serve this nation and state, that they may be led by the light of your wisdom, guided by your truth and justice, and that your providential hand may work your sovereign purpose in and through them. 

Gracious God, we thank you for your grace and mercy which has guided us through the manifold changes of this life; but most of all, for the love that we know in your Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.  In all that we say, in all that we do, in all that we are, may we give you praise, glory, and honor, this day and forevermore.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Grace and peace be with you!

SDG

Something about the resurrection…

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again
to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
(1 Peter 1:3 ESV)

I make it a point not to talk about politics, too much.  I don’t want my position as pastor, nor my pulpit and the message of the Gospel that I proclaim, to be too closely identified with one particular party or another.  I will not put campaign signs in my yard.  I will not financially support one candidate or another.  I have in the past been asked to pray at the opening of a county-wide rally for a particular party, and if asked by the opposing party, I would gladly offer the same prayer for them as well.

That being said…

Tuesday President Obama spoke at a Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House about the amazing ability of the resurrection to “put everything else into perspective.”

Here’s the content of the President’s message:

“I wanted to host this breakfast for a simple reason – because as busy as we are, as many tasks as pile up, during this season, we are reminded that there’s something about the resurrection – something about the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ, that puts everything else in perspective.”
“We all live in the hustle and bustle of our work… but then comes Holy Week.  The triumph of Palm Sunday.  The humility of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.  His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross.
“And we’re reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world – past, present and future – and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.
“In the words of the book Isaiah:  “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:  the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
“This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this “Amazing Grace” calls me to reflect.  And it calls me to pray.  It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that I’ve not shown grace to others, those times that I’ve fallen short.  It calls me to praise God for the gift of our son – his Son and our Savior.”
(Source CNS News www.cnsnews.com)

First, let me say “thank you” to our President for publically affirming his faith, but also the centrality of the teaching that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Savior, who died for our sins, and was raised from the dead for our salvation.  Any opportunity to have that message proclaimed is welcome.

Secondly, it is so true that as we recall the events of Holy Week, we can begin to get our priorities back in order.  Jesus willingly took that road of suffering which led to the cross for us, he bore our sins in his body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24), the righteous for the unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18).  This was the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for us (Romans 5:8), and the love which His disciples are to show to one another (John 13:34-35).  Truly the events of Holy Week are a great reminder to repent of our cold and unmoving love, our reluctance to take up our cross and follow Christ, and a motive to praise God for the gift of His Son, in whom we have our victory.

However, is this all that “something about the resurrection” does?  I don’t fault the President here.  He is not the “Pastor in Chief” or the nation’s resident theologian, so I do not expect an exhaustive answer here.  But as a pastor, I must add that the resurrection must do more than just “put things in perspective.”

The resurrection is the sine qua non of the Christian faith.  Without the resurrection of Christ, Christianity is meaningless, deceitful, and we Christians are pitiful fools (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).  Before the resurrection, the disciples were ready to give up and go back to fishing.  Without the resurrection, Jesus would have gone down in history as another good teacher and prophet, no different than all those who had come before.  But because of the resurrection, Jesus is revealed to be the Son of God (Rom 1:4), those who believe in Him are justified by God (Rom 4:25), we are assured of our victory over death and of the resurrection to eternal life (1 Cor 15:50-57; 1 Thess 4:13-18); and the life we now live we live in the power of the risen Lord (Rom 6:4, 8:11).  The resurrection is so much more than an adjustment of our priorities – it is the confirmation of God’s gift of life and peace to those who believe in Christ the Lord.

SDG