Thursday, October 22, 2009

vote

Throughout my time, both as a follower of Jesus, and especially as a leader of other followers of Jesus, I have felt a pressure to engage my beliefs and convictions into the political system. Just as there is a, perceived by some, moral formula to how live my life as a follower, there is also a, perceived by some, moral formula guiding how followers of Jesus should vote.
In my part of the world, as in many parts in the States, there is a political referendum on the ballot this time around of the sorts that can tend to blur the lines of politics and faith. So it goes without saying that well meaning and not so well meaning people on both sides of the issue have distinct views where one should take their moral stand. As a leader of a community of people who follow Jesus, I’ve been asked by other leaders of neighboring faith communities to publicly make a stand in a published letter to the editor in the local print media. That’s a given on any issue of this sort. One side had a specific view on how I personally should vote and how I should “encourage” (ie., coerce, guilt, shame, …) those I lead to vote. The problem is this; there are just as many leaders of Jesus followers who have signed, and encouraged me to sign, a letter stating the total opposite view on the issue. Two groups, two opinions, but one God…. How does this resolve itself?
I’m not an expert, but in stepping back here is what I have concluded. First of all, the issue at hand, as in all of the rest, has multiple sides to it from a faith issue. On one side, we have a life style choice being challenged, and I do feel that the Book of Books does have something to say on the matter. This is not always a popular choice with one camp of people who follow Jesus. On the other hand, I do also feel that the Book of Books has much to say on love and respect and how, as people created Imago Dei (in the image of God) we are all worthy of these things no matter what our opinion may be of choices, one side or the other. This leaves me in a place between, removed from the Christmas card lists of both camps…..whatever.
Here’s the thing…. I am absolutely going to vote. I am absolutely not going to tell anyone how I will vote as a follower of Jesus, nor will I tell them how they should vote. I have been called to lead a group of people into the greater mission of God, far beyond our personal views, country and state objectives, and general moral dilemma of the day. I have not been appointed as a representative or political delegate to the people of my congregation. I am fully aware that this statement in and of itself is enough to gather enough disdain from both sides. That’s fine by me. I have a sign positioned as I leave my office that reminds me to “stand up for what’s right, even if I’m standing alone”. As a follower of Jesus and a leader of followers of Jesus, if I am to be faithful to His teachings contained in the Book of Books, I could lead from either direction. I have always believed that if you can’t win, then you do what’s right. So the best anyone will get from me is the admonition to vote, not from your own self conviction, but with the lead of the best counselor we have, God’s Holy Spirit.

Monday, October 12, 2009

teeter totter

So… inspired by the generous act of a friend, I am back on my blog for a momentary return from self imposed exile. My chair feels wonderful and the view, on what’s likely to be the last sunny day of the season, is gorgeous with the sun coming up rose colored and reflecting off of the mountains. I don’t even remember my last time here and really don’t know when my next will come. I’m heading for Portland tomorrow and a week of wringing out my brain in grad school. By the time I get back, if not before, a granddaughter will be born and then all time will most likely stop. So in the mean time, for one more time, I get to listen to Pandora while chasing this cursor across my screen.
Much has changed in the blur of the past few weeks, I guess it’s good to slow down for an hour and get my bearings again. It’s been one of those “I have no idea where we’re going, but we’re making great time” months in my house. Life, as it should be I guess, has been a combination of the arrival of new things while some old things slip from my grasp. All at once, looking at the inventory, I realize the paradox that some of my life has become. I’m a grandfather and I’m a grandchild. I’m a father and I’m a child. I’m an uncle and I’m a nephew. I’m a student and I’m a teacher. I’m an artist and a piece of art…. or is that a piece of work. I’m a creator and I’m the creation. When I put the list on a screen like this it is easy to see how each of these are an uneasy balancing act. My own personal experience is that I can’t seem to put equal focus on either end of these. One side always is demanding more time and I am frequently sinking on one side and trying to scramble to the other. I’m either teetering or tottering.
The reality of a teeter totter is that you never have equal sides. You are either the bigger kid or at the mercy of the bigger kid. And most of the time, it’s the difference between the two that creates the motion. It’s those fleeting moments, when the balance is reached, where there is rest. They are few and far between. In my personal teeter totter world, sometimes I can just muscle my way to balance just as I would use leg strength to overcome the weight of the big kid on the other end. But sometimes life ends up like a couple of bigger kids piling on and my legs are no longer of use because they are three feet in the air. When that happens I have a choice. I can kick and scream at the wind…. Or I can sit quietly and wait. I hate that. The kicking and screaming only serves to wear me out and I’m usually still hanging up there. Usually, sitting quietly for a period of time will cause the one on the other end to get bored and let me down, sometimes slowly, sometimes by jumping off.
I am finding, after years of kicking and screaming when I’m off balance, the wisdom of quieting myself. “Be still and know that I am God” in the Book of Books has become very real to me of late. Prayer and nothingness, though against every fiber of my being when I am hanging, has the ability to bring balance. I may not make sense, but it works. One way I can find to explain it is that, just maybe, when the bigger issue has you hanging three feet off the ground, prayer and nothingness invites God to join you on the teeter totter. And let’s face it, there certainly is no bigger kid on the playground than Him.