Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

To the Community of Christ United Methodist Church: Reflection on Inauguration Day

clip_image002The inauguration of Barack Obama as the President of the United States is scheduled to take place on Monday, January 21, 2013. Inaugurations are an important milestone in the life of our nation and it will mark the beginning of the second term of President Obama as our 44th President, and the Honorable Joseph Biden as Vice President of the United States of America.

Regardless of each of our individual political convictions and beliefs, the approaching inauguration day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the history of our nation, the present state of affairs and to dream about what the future may hold for our nation.

Our nation comes to this inauguration day almost evenly divided, and, from what I recall, it has been this way for at least 15 years. Although that divide is narrow in numerical terms (less than two percentage points of the total population), it is wide in ideological terms; our nation seems repeatedly enmeshed in brutal and savage 51-49 campaigns where many elections are decided by the kind of dirt the election campaigns can dig up on their opponent. As a result, our political process and citizenry become more and more cynical about the political process, and paralyzed by irreconcilable differences between right and left, blue and red, conservative and liberal.

Allow me to illustrate. A couple of months ago I heard a podcast of “This American Life” (Episode #478 titled “Red State Blue State”) which examined stories of men and women who lost friends in recent years because of politics. This episode captured the mood of division present in our country vividly and, in my opinion, accurately. One segment of the podcast talked about a young man with a life-threatening pre-existing condition that rendered him uninsurable. That young man had a long-time close friend who refused to support ObamaCare due to his own political beliefs and convictions, and this friend chose to end their relationship over these differences. Another segment of the same podcast described a violent fall-out between two sisters over differences in political convictions. How sad is this?

Unfortunately these divisions and incivility are a reality in our lives. Fortunately, as Christians, we know about the other reality of our lives.

Less than one month ago, we celebrated the historical fact that our loving and gracious God – God who created all of us, understands and forgives our human condition – took human form and came to dwell among us in the person of Jesus.

As we prepare for the season of Lent, followed by the celebration of Easter and the jubilation of Pentecost, we remember that Jesus came to dwell among us not only so we could go to Heaven instead of Hell after we die, but also so that God could dwell within us. Jesus came to dwell among us to show us how we can respectfully coexist with each other.

I think that the most immediate need for us as a nation is to find a way to live and to communicate civilly with each other. Over the next few years, there will continue to be legislative battles. I do not expect either conservatives or liberals to change their views and opinions “en masse”; the fundamental issues that divide us today will continue to divide us for the foreseeable future.

Our top priority as a nation is to figure out a way to keep these divisions from dividing the country into two hostile camps that cannot resolve their differences. Our top priority as the community of Christ United Methodist Church, a community of sisters and brothers united by the blood of Jesus, is to be a safe haven where opinions on both sides of the aisle are valued and respected.

May our community of Christ United Methodist Church be the loving presence of Jesus to our neighbors and a gracious catalyst of reconciliation in our geographical area and beyond.

I would like to close this reflection with a prayer adapted from the prayer published on page 442 of the United Methodist Book of Worship.

Compassionate, loving, gracious, and just God, creator of us all.

You have created all the peoples of this earth and you preside over the whole universe with care.

Inspire the minds of all women and men to whom you have committed the responsibility of government and leadership in the nations of the world. As our nation approaches this inauguration day, we especially pray for the offices of the President and Vice-President of the United States of America.

Give to our leaders the vision of truth and justice, that by their counsel all nations and peoples may peacefully coexist and work together for the common good.

Give to the people of our country zeal for justice, strength of forbearance and spirit of cooperation, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will.

Forgive our shortcomings as a nation and as individuals; purify our hearts to see and love the truth; open our eyes, hearts and minds so that we can see the world from your perspective.

We pray these things in Jesus’ precious name. AMEN.

Philos

Asher

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