On Giants' Shoulders

Thursday, March 06, 2008

So Who Will Be the Leader?

For the past few months the primary season has been upon us. Starting the January candidates began to be weeded out. There weren't all that many whom I really liked to begin with and by the time that our primary finally happened in Vermont the only ones left that I really liked also had no realistic chance of winning a nomination. At this point I can't honestly say that I like any candidate, I have issues with all of them, and I honestly am not sure whom I will vote for in November.

However, the last few days it has seemed like the psalmist got there ahead of me. The psalms have been pointing out that we shouldn't put our trust in men anyway. "Put no trust in princes, in mortal men in whom there is no help. Take their breath, they return to clay and their plans that day come to nothing. He is happy who is helped by Jacob's God, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who alone made heaven and earth, the seas and all they contain. It is he who keeps faith for ever, who is just to those who are oppressed."

So I've been thinking a lot about believers in other times, believers who didn't have access to a ballot box anyway and for whom a change in who the Roman emperor was could make even bigger changes than those we've seen over the past 50 years. They had no way to make any changes at the political level, and yet somehow over the course of a few hundred years they managed to change everything. It's not that it's wrong to get involved in politics, or seek to have policies change. It's that sometimes we forget that the place where we can actually be most effective is not in the public arena, but in the small choices we make in our own daily lives.

For example, my friend Karen's kids are involved in packaging nutritional kits to be sent to starving children. Other friends have been involved to a crisis pregnancy center that actually provides assistance to mothers after their babies are born. As a family we spent hours over the past few years fighting for elderly people in our family, making sure that they got appropriate medical care to the end of natural life (not as easy as you might think). In each of these cases it is people having an impact on only a few people, sometimes only one person. Yet in a sense the impact goes beyond that to the other people in their lives, to the medical workers who see a different example than what they often see, to the friends and families of mothers who are having a baby "out of season" so to speak. The Church makes a very strong case for Lent being not just a time of giving things up, but a time of almsgiving as well. If we can take the money we don't spend on meat, have a more frugal meal and give the extra to the poor and needy we will be speaking in a language that the poor can perhaps understand. It may be a way to have an impact far greater than our vote at the ballot box.

So as we look at no good choices at all at the ballot box, we need to remember that God is still in control. Of course, sometimes he leads his people through a wilderness and we do need to be reminded that Tertullian said that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church. We are not promised ease we are instead asked to be salt in the world. Our voices are often not welcomed in some places, orthodox Christianity is ridiculed by many in the media and in other circles of importance. However, we follow one who stood with a crown of thorns on his head being mocked. We follow one who was ridiculed all the way to the cross, and then ridiculed some more while He hung there. But that was not the end of the story, and any election of any presidential candidate is not the end of the story either.

"Our Lord is great and almighty;
his wisdom can never be measured.
The Lord raises the lowly;
he humbles the wicked to the dust.
O sing to the Lord, giving thanks'
sing psalms to our God with the harp.

He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares the rain for the arth,
making mountains sprout with grass
and with plants to serve men's needs.
He provides the beasts with their food
and young ravens that call upon him.

His delight is not in horses
nor his pleasure in warrior's strength.
The Lord delights in those who revere him,
in those who wait for his love."

So let's revere the Lord, wait for his love, trust in his care, and put no trust in princes (or presidents).


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