The prophet Isaiah (6:1-3) had a remarkable vision in a year when the king died. . .when all seemed lost. . .when it appeared he and his people were about to leap into an abyss:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Despite the political turmoil and in the face of the abyss, the prophet awakened to the truth that God is God despite whomever the king or queen or president may be. We chant HOLY HOLY HOLY despite the princes of the earth. ~See you Sunday
Last month I was faced with the task of moving my office across the street to our temporary quarters. I came across some files of Newsweek magazines I had saved at the time of Watergate and the resignation of President Richard Nixon. I was nineteen years old. Last week, I turned sixty-three.
Though 1972 was a long time ago, I do recall how unnerved my parents were and the general state of fear and anxiety that was pervasive, at least in my region of the world. The United States survived that constitutional crisis and resignation. And of course, the truth is, this country survived far worse via the Civil War, the two great wars and a Great Depression.
So when candidates run on fear and declare that if they are not elected there will be a constitutional crisis or that the stars will fall from the sky and our country will end, I’m inclined to simply ask them if they have ever, ever read our history. Please. I shy away from fear-mongers and I certainly feel insulted by threats that if I don’t vote for you then you’ll rise up in rebellion. Tsk tsk. Churchhill-esque this is not .
The presidential campaigns, for this season at least, are coming to an end. That end will be greeted as though a pestilence has lifted. We’ll need a good deal of time to heal from the barbarity and banality of all of this.
So the campaigners have been voicing their opinions. Now it is our turn. Go vote. Vote for human dignity and worth; for justice and freedom; and by all means vote for hope. Then come Wednesday, no matter who wins, you and I will roll up our sleeves and do what Christ has asked of us. That mission does not change because someone else sits in the White House as President. Oh, the consequences are enormous, don’t get me wrong. Your vote is important and much will be changed. But our mission is not one of these. I must love God with all of my heart, mind and strength and I must love my neighbor as myself. You must do that too. And when I do that and you do that then we become a We.
Kingdoms rise and fall. They always have and always will. But the Word of God and the love of Christ endure forever. Take hope in that as you go to the polls Tuesday. Take heart in that when you wake up on Wednesday. ~See you Sunday
In Scene IV of Act I, Hamlet and his colleagues are struggling to understand what appears to be the dead King and father of Hamlet. It is an apparition that waves to Hamlet and seems to want to speak with him. Against the advice of his colleagues guarding the wall that evening, Hamlet goes to the apparition. Marcellus, a friend and guard, says what is obvious, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Democracy in the United States of America in 2016 is rotten. A neo-fascist movement is afoot in our country, rotting with sordid ideologies of misogyny and racism. It is one thing to have such citizens in a country as large as ours. It is another to have a major political party embrace a candidate for President who not only is unapologetic but stokes these ideologies like a scout stoking a bonfire.
Our history, however, is more than adequate to illustrate that these kinds of persons have been here for a very long time and—though the process has been sometimes too slow and an ordeal—we have overcome them. The way we overcome them is to speak up when the time demands that we speak. To remain silent is to be a conspirator with what is cheap and tawdry and sometimes wicked in us. You must speak with your vote. Too many have died and suffered to provide this right and privilege. Exercise your right to vote then and let us be on our way to exorcising ghosts and fiends.
There will never be a perfect candidate. We will always have to make choices that sift and sort through the flaws of people. Not to vote is a silk glove for tyranny’s fist. Christian citizenship is not about electing a Christian or a minister. Instead, it is about living honorably and doing our best to fulfill the promises and responsibilities of our constitution. After you vote, perhaps even as you vote, you might whisper to yourself Jesus’ teaching “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” You belong ultimately to the Kingdom of God. Live honorably in this moment and be assured that if the world is dishonorable, your destiny rests in the the nobility and honor of the Prince of Peace.
~See you Sunday