Monday, November 7, 2016

Trust God Not the Election!

Every Tuesday I go to Bible study with other Lutheran pastors from New Hampshire.
It is one of the things I do to prepare to preach on Sunday.
This week I told my colleagues that I planned to preach on the election.
They all said, “It was nice knowing you”.
Even my kids tried to talk me out of it.
When I told them I was going to preach about the election they both said, “Dad, don’t do it!”
It is true that our politics have become so toxic, and this particular political season so bad, that we can’t even talk about it anymore.
Despite the warnings from colleagues and my kids I am going to talk about the election.
I am going to do it for two reasons.
One, I trust you all.
I trust that you are all adults, and as adults can have conversations with people with whom you disagree.
I trust that we are a congregation that is centered on Jesus Christ and not our political views.
Second, I was always taught that you preach with the Bible in one hand, and the New York Times in the other.
The word of God must have an application to what is happening in the world.
And what is happening in our country is that on Tuesday we are going to have an election.
So everyone get ready, buckle your seat belt, put on a helmet, here comes my sermon on the election.

On Monday’s at Bible study we are studying the book of Daniel.
It just so happens that our first reading for this morning is from Daniel.
It is a part in the book of Daniel where Daniel has a dream about four beasts that rise out of the sea.
As all dreams are symbolic so is this one.
The Four beasts represent four dynastic empires Babylon, Medes, Persians, and the Greeks.
They are all empires that committed crimes against the people of Israel.
They ruled with fear and intimidation.
The book of Daniel has two major themes.
One is that all empires fall, and the only true king/empire is God.
All others that claim to be great are false gods.
The second is that we are called as God’s people to remain faithful under the rule of such empires.
Our role is to remain faithful to the kingdom of God and not the kingdom of the earth.

This election has been prophesied by both political parties as the end of the world.
No matter who wins it will be catastrophe.
As people of faith we don’t believe it, because if this was the end of the world then it would be in God’s hands and not ours.
As people of faith if it is in God’s hands we know we will be fine.

Something else is going on, something that happens every election but seems to be getting worse, or is bothering me more this election.
We are taking sides based on our religious beliefs.
And I think that is dangerous.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are not married to either of these political parties.
We are called to follow Jesus.
Yes, we should vote, we should do our duty as citizens of this country, we should use our minds and hearts to vote for who we think would be the best president, senator, congressperson, but our destiny is not about who wins this election, or any election.
It is tied up with the kingdom of God and not of the kingdom of this world.

Think about the words that Jesus speaks this morning in his sermon on the plain from Luke’s Gospel.
“Blessed are the poor for your is the kingdom of God”
“Woe to you who are rich now….”
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled”
“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.”
These are not the words of a politician trying to win an election.
They are the words of our savior telling us that the kingdom is beyond our imaginations.

I was thinking about these words this week.
We simply don’t here politicians talk this way.
And we should not be fooled by any of them.
No matter whom they are or what party they belong to none of them is about God’s kingdom.
None of them can solve the problems you have right now.
None of them can save a marriage, get you a job, save your life, care for your children.
Or do the million things we all have to do to get through a day.
Politics is all a show.
It is all fake.
And that is what the book of Daniel shows us.
Earthly powers are always fleeting.
Only God’s power is forever.
Politicians that promise us peace and prosperity are always lying, because only God can bring peace and prosperity.

I have read a lot this election about people in our country who are feeling left out of the political process.
Poor, uneducated whites, in rural parts of our country that no politicians go to visit, feel left out.
African Americans who are statistical disproportionately jailed more often than whites, who are executed by the death penalty, and who are killed more often by police.
In this election Latinos have been caricatured as lazy and criminals.
There are Muslims being called terrorist.
What I believe is that all these people have more in common than they think.
They are being divided by politicians looking for power.
And that is exactly the way the rich and powerful want it.
And we are being divided by people telling us that your side is righteous and the other horrible human beings.
How many times does a Facebook post have to start with, “Conservatives hate poor people.” Or “liberals don’t want people to work.”
(Or add your own insult here.)
We have forgotten that we are all children of the same God.
We have forgotten what Jesus teaches us this morning, “Love you enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
When was the last time you heard a politician talk like that?

Today is All Saints Sunday.
And today we are not celebrating super Christian people that were perfect.
We are celebrating a collection of people that together were more than they were individually.
Today we remember that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
We are surrounded by people from other times and places that have gone before us, people that set an example of what it means to live a faithful life in a often mean and cruel world.
People that crossed oceans, learned a new language, worked hard, raised a family, lived through great depressions, evil manic dictators hell bent on killing everyone, fear of nuclear annihilation, racial prejudice, women’s suffrage, gay and lesbian rights.
We remember today people that knew real hunger and injustice, but who held on to God for dear life, people who saw empires rise and fall.
And those saints speak to us today.
They remind us that God is true and faithful, that life is about following Jesus.
It is about helping out each other, and especially those at the bottom.
Whatever happens on Tuesday we have to remember that God is still our hope and our guide just like he was for the saints that came before us.
That we believe in God’s kingdom come.
And that no election can change that truth.

I will be praying on Tuesday for our country.
I will be praying for all of you as you vote.
But most of all I will be praying that we remember that our allegiance is always to God first.
It is always to Jesus Christ.
And that is where we put our hopes and our lives, and not in an election.


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