If somehow you live in a cave and were not aware, on Sunday, the US House of Representatives have passed the Senate’s bill for healthcare reform. This has caused a lot of stir (and a lot of hurdles to come); and some very angry, others very happy. On one side, I understand that people are nervous about the changes. I get that. I understand that. On the other hand, I am happy that our government has gone out and accomplished something they set out to do. But the healthcare reform bill has received a lot of backlash (from mainly Republicans but also Democrats).
- Highlight(s) of the week:
- The inauguration of President Obama was exciting, as expected. I look forward to the next four years with great anticipation.
- I had a few job interviews lined up so it’s nice to know someone is interested in me.
- I had a good conversation with someone about the emerging church. Basically explained that it’s not perfect, but much of what’s going on within it are good things.
- Had a snow day yesterday, which allowed me to catch-up on some much needed sleep (which I’m losing some more of tonight).
- Disappointed by: (1) the reason I am up at 4 AM this morning typing this is because Giselle won’t sleep so…yeah. I think (I hope!) she’s teething. (2) Amanda and I are sick. Amanda more than me. (3) All the “hate” I’ve been hearing from people about Obama, the emerging church, and differing theological views. It’s just wearing on me.
- Books I’m reading:
- The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier by Tony Jones – on hold for…
- Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life by Ed Cyzewski
- Job update: had/have a few interviews. I hope to get a job full time, but two part-time is acceptable right now.
- Seminary update: finished the class on preaching. I have to hand-in a short essay, and then it will be complete. Next class is with Peter Enns, who I’ve quoted numerous times on this site, so I look forward to it.
- Looking forward to: (1) the next 4 years. Just interested more than thinking “Obama’s the messiah” type of thing. (2) Giselle to fall asleep. Is it bad to set up a pack-and-play in the basement and let your child “cry it out” there? I just may do it. Haha! but seriously. (3) Getting better. (4) Finding a job. I feel like it’s right around the corner.
Rick Warren is a mega-church pastor from Southern California. He was asked by Obama to give the invocation at his inauguration (this stirred some controversy). Overall, I thought Warren did a nice job in his prayer. It was well thought-out, articulate, and loving. I’m sure some were upset that he actually mentioned “Jesus,” but I think most Americans can get past that. Below is the text and video of his prayer.
Let us pray.
Almighty God, our Father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory.
History is your story. The Scripture tells us, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.
Now, today, we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hingepoint of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.
Give to our new President, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.
Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.
Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of goodwill today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you. We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.
I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray:
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
[copied and pasted from Christianity Today here]
Gene Robinson is an openly gay bishop within the Episcopal Church. Although many have disagreed with his lifestyle, I believe the bishop’s prayer was noteworthy. I specifically found his prayer against oppression, discrimination, for Obama’s role as a father, and that Obama is not “a messiah” very moving. I have placed the video at the bottom of the post.
Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.
[The prayer was copied and pasted from here.]
[[Also, read Christianity Today's article on the prayer can be read here.]]
“1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born…”
-Matthew 2v1-4 TNIV
I had been reflecting on this verse in light of Charlie‘s and my conversation about Obama’s possible Department of Peace and Non-Violence. I took one side of the argument, that is, don’t trust the D of P & N but trust Jesus, the author of true peace. I still agree with this, and I think Charlie does, too (?).
I would also like to add another point to the conversation, that is, there have been times in the history of God’s people that the “outsiders” had to remind the “insiders” what they are looking for. During Advent, we are looking forward to celebrating Jesus’ first coming and his second. Perhaps, much like the Magi, who reminded the Jews that they should’ve been looking for the true King of the Jews (where they had trusted other things to save them), we, as Christians, could be reminded that we too should’ve been working for Peace and Non-Violence.
You can almost see the look on the face of the people in Matthew chapter 2. They were disturbed (!) by what they heard. “Uhh…where was that Messiah guy supposed to be born? Oh yes! That’s right – Bethlehem. We forgot.” Perhaps, they were troubled because they forgot? Perhaps, they were troubled because it took these pagan magi to remind them?
Either way, we could learn from them – sometimes it takes our “Gentile magi” (in this case, those proposing the DP&N?) to remind Christians that we should’ve been working for peace and non-violence, but instead, we were too busy looking and placing our trust elsewhere.
No matter how you voted, I think this article is a beautiful story for not only black Americans but all of us.
“Along a rural highway in central Texas sits a small white house with some cows grazing out back and a wheelchair ramp leading to the front screen door. Inside that house lives Amanda Jones, 109, the daughter of a slave. No one in her family, least of all Jones, thought she would live long enough to vote for the man who is to become the first black president…[more]“
Even though, Focus on the Family‘s Dr. James Dobson’s “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America“, in which he make some rather disparaging speculations about (at that time) Obama’s potential presidency, angered me beyond all belief and broke my heart (and his picture brings up bad feelings in me), I have decided not to attack him for the following reason:
- Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13v34-35 TNIV).
Everything inside of me wants to “get ‘em,” but I feel that as Christian brothers and sisters we need to stop arguing about what we disagree about and start moving forward by celebrating what we agree on – mainly, the resurrected Jesus (let’s at least start there).
If we are going to move forward, let’s bind ourselves by that command in John’s gospel. Let’s offer the world an alternative to its ways of dealing with division, that is, more division; evil with more evil. Let’s deal with division with love. Let’s overcome evil with good.
So, James, I doubt you read this blog, but I love you. I don’t love your politics. I don’t love your tactics, but I love you because I realize you, like me, believe in the resurrected Jesus and his transforming power for this broken world. May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and keep you.
Yesterday, I reflected on the idea of a “relational vote.” Before I went out to vote, I asked a bunch of people who they think I should vote for to be the next President, and why? I received some interesting responses. I also placed the question as my Facebook status but asked them to keep it short and stay away from slandering, and I received many replies very quickly. I also asked my wife what she thinks is best for our family.
Here are some of my favorites [I cannot (and will not because I don't have the time) verify everyone's statements as factually true, and also to protect privacy I did not include the names of the persons, save one]:
- Tim told me to vote for whoever I felt was best. Thanks, Tim – no help at all. He still thinks everyone already asks others who they should vote for and why. Poor, Tim.
- An extended family member told me I should vote for McCain because s/he feels that he’ll be better for the poor economy
- I had 2 people suggest that I vote for them. Sorry, I didn’t. In all fairness, one of those people told me to vote for life over money.
- “vote for obama- he cares and he genuinely wants to heal this country. even though he’s young, risky and radical- isn’t that what we need? don’t we need to see things like social security and health care reformed? don’t we need to see college made more affordable? don’t we need to see tax savings for the middle class? the working poor? don’t we ..“
- [Same person later wrote] “voting for one or two ‘hot topic’ issues such as abortion or questioning patriotism is archaic. i agree with [#7]- ‘who represents the policies and issues that are the best for most people’. vote for what’s really important and what really matters because when everything is said and done it’s not really about you or me, it’s about all of us.”
- “Hey Ev hope this helps Im voting today based on Spiritual conviction… the sanctity of LIFE, the sanctity of MARRIAGE (one man, one woman), sanctity of my Christian Freedoms! Also I do know and heard straight from Obama’s mouth that he has been to flag burning ceremony’s, he believes in partial birth abortions and will not wear an american pin because he ‘doesnt want to take sides’. Hey I dont think that either canidate is good for the job but Mccain def fits more of my beliefs than Obama does…”
- “Even if you think Obama is going to win and how cool it will be to have our first ‘black’ president, showing we do love and accept all peoples in our country, you need to vote your conscience, who represents the policies and issues that are the best for the most people? That is who you should vote for, Evan. Who is that to you? You are free to pray, ask God’s direction and then do what you have to live with whether is will be what the majority wil decide by tonight!”
- “Bob Barr. He doesn’t advocate big government and has more realistic plans for reforms…”
- [Same person later wrote] “I think there is more than one person who posted here [Facebook] that needs to recognize that legislating morality is harmful to the spread of Christianity (or simply Judeo-Christian values for some) because it galvanizes those who oppose it. The point really is that people won’t stop having abortions and people won’t stop living in homosexual relationshipsunless they are changed by the Holy Spirit who works through people on the earth, not legislation. Also, legislating morality leads to a more socialist government because it gives the government too more power. (i.e. if we defined marriage as man-woman in the Constitution, then it opens the door for future generations to change the constitutional definition of marriage. Why not give them civil unions and be done with the issue?) Why don’t we keep the power to govern ourselves and act as Christians are supposed to by interacting with people who don’t believe in order to change them?”
- “if u havent made up ur mind by now dont vote. i voted for mccain because not only is he the most experienced, but he also is pro life and against gay marraige. he also respects my rights to own guns”
- “there r some 200 candidates to choose from. I got my application in late so when i went to vote there wasn’t anyone to vote for. so I abstained from the presidential vote. although i did vote for state level positions. so vote with your heart Ev.”
- “i refuse to be a two issue voter. Are those issues important? Yes, but I won’t let abortion and gay marriage dominate who I vote for. So what if we were to vote someone who is pro-life, anti gay marriage, but has no clue how to run the country? Then where would we be?”
- “The day I take a real, vested interest in voting is the day when my county or township gets together, decides on issues and goals that matter to us, and then a candidate comes in and tells us how he/she will accomplish those goals. Our system is backwards.”
- “So Ev who are you voting for?!?!?! haha”
So, I carried these statements and about 8 or 9 more on my conscious as I went into the voting booth. I took my community (Facebook and others) with me as I struck my vote for President.
Here’s what I learned – it’s easy to talked about people as “them.” You know, “Them, democrats.” “Them, McCain supporters.” But I think for the first time in my voting career I actually saw good dialogue between “all of us,” people of my community, attempting to persuade one to a particular candidate that they feel is best for me, themselves, and the rest of us. Then, my vote matters because only then am I making a decision for my community of friends and family knowing full-well that I could hurt or protect them with my vote. That’s a lot of responsibility. But it’s a good one.
Really, what I learned is that talking is possible. We can dialog. We can have conversations. We can be in community together and learn from one another. We can disagree, but we can talk.
Yeah, I like that this talking thing.
There’s been a lot of talk about changing the future – for our children, our schools, our economy, our country. That’s fine. Thus, I would like to predict the future. Unfortunately, I don’t know who will win the election. I’m still piecing that together, but I see two avenues of the future. Let’s start simple. There’s always a tomorrow on election day, and many of the ones I’ve experienced have been relatively similar. Here’s what tomorrow (normally) will be like based upon which candidate wins the election:
If Obama wins, you’ll hear from opposing voters:
- “This sucks!”
- “I’m going out to buy a gun! Terrorists will be swarming in here because he won’t attack anyone.”
- “Wow, we voted a terrorist, Muslim into our presidency.” (seriously, not sure how people still believe this)
- “Well, there goes the ‘land of the free.’”
- “Well, there goes the economy. Prepare yourself for socialism.”
- “The liberal media promoted him so much that people thought they had to vote for him. That’s not fair.”
If McCain wins, you’ll hear from opposing voters:
- “This sucks!”
- “I’m going to buy a gun! Terrorists will be swarming in here because he’ll attack everyone!”
- Hollywood political gurus – “I’m moving to [such and such a place outside the US]!” (Someone is bound to say this. Robert Redford?)
- “Well, there goes ‘justice for all’?”
- “There goes women’s choice!”
- “More of the same…”
I predict that not all of us will be happy. But isn’t that OK? That’s the point of democracy. That’s the point of voting because there will never be an unanimous decision.
So, now that you know the future, put exaggerations aside, put idle statements behind, and let’s learn how to live together without getting angry at each other for thinking differently. Let’s learn to disagree well. Like Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol - anger, frustration, and exaggeration is our future, but it doesn’t have to be.
Let’s change tomorrow, tomorrow. If we are going to change the future, how ’bout we start here?
Have you heard it said, “This presidential election is going to be the most important election ever”? I have.
Now, maybe I’m just being cynical, but it seems to me that every election tends to have the “most important election ever” bumper sticker attached to it. Wasn’t 2004 the same? And won’t 2012 be?
Plus, when did we become so elitist thinking our election is the most important? What about the election after Hoover and the Great Depression? What about the elections prior to the Civil War? What about the first election that got the country rolling?
It seems subjective to me.
And we wonder why people are saying, “If Obama wins, I’m buying a gun!” “If McCain wins, “I’m leaving the country and going to Canada!” I mean, seriously?
A few things I do know will be true even after “the most important election ever” takes place:
- Jesus is still King over the cosmos – no matter what changes, this doesn’t.
- The world will not come to an end today or at the new president’s inauguration (because Harold Camping clearly says it will end in 2011 anyway. Sorry, the world’s a ticking time bomb. Even McCain and Obama can’t stop that. Please catch all the sarcasm here.)
- God will still be sovereign over the events in his creation, and only he can be fully trusted for saving the world from all its disease (as Everyday Liturgy says today).
- God still loves the world so much that he sent Jesus for it (cf. John 3v16)
- (you fill in #5 in the comments below)
Go, (if you vote) vote in peace. Remember -
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
I’d like to end this with a prayer for the voters to pray as you enter the polls:
Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges;
guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and
representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all
may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, p. 822).