Blog: From the Pastor’s Desk
I am writing this letter on Election Day, a day of excitement and fear. Politics and I have a strained relationship. On one hand, I am an avid listener and reader of what is going on in our national and state capitals. (I do avoid 24-hour news on TV though.) While living in Lancaster, I was even involved in some of the politics happening in the city, I saw how choices of our governments were impacting my neighbors for better and worse. But at the same time, our politics here in the United States are so polarized. I came across a video put out recently by our cousins, The Brethren Church. Jason Barnhart, the Director of Brethren Research and Resourcing, was discussing the struggle many of us are having. He spoke specifically about abortion and immigration/refugee protections. Issues we Christians care about, but the political parties force us to choose one or the other. Or, they blast away all the complex nuances of the issues, turning good ideas into short pithy planks of their platforms. Things that don’t work or cause horrendous side effects because of their lack of their sledgehammer approach.
Sometimes I become so disgusted with the system, I consider returning to the roots of our denomination and separating myself from the process of voting. The early Brethren and Anabaptist understood that taking part in government was a type of sinning. Because the government wields the sword, taking part in its function is to also dip our hands into the blood. Therefore, while the believers may obey the government for the most part, they should not be too closely connected with it. However, they lived in a different time, one that was much more authoritarian and violent than our own. We live in a time when our opinions can actually change how our government works. Not only that, we are given the chance to help our brothers and sisters by raising our voices.
We won’t be able to vote in the Kingdom of Heaven, politics are human and therefore prone to error. But we can try to make this nation a better place. 244 years ago, we have began as a nation with chattel slavery, where most women couldn’t have their own bank account let alone act as an independent person, and where children of Native Americans and immigrants could be taken away so their culture could be washed away. Now we are a nation without slavery, with legal equality of the sexes, and where unique cultures are not just tolerated, but often celebrated. We can’t vote in the Kingdom of Heaven, but we can vote to make it more like it. Even more importantly, we can work together everyday of the year to achieve the goals that Jesus set out for us. As Andrew of the past, I pray that you who are reading this note are doing well with what has happened in the last few days and that you are looking forward to being a better citizen of God’s Kingdom.