Skip to main content

vote. and pray. but do not be afraid (the King is alive).


i'm not sure how many americans right now are feeling optimistic about the government.  i know i'm not.  in fact, while i didn't live through the civil war or anything, i have to think that faith in our elected leaders - indeed the whole system of electing them in the first place - is at one of its lowest points.  i just don't have a great deal of confidence in those individuals who have been elected, or in those who want to be.  i find myself slipping at times into what feels like a swamp of apathy: sinking, to be sure, but not sure that i care enough anymore to do much about it.  i see this attitude all around me: in conversations, on social media, and in popular culture.  perhaps there is no more clear indication of our nation's view of the government than this current election season, when we would teeter on electing liars and thieves, crooks and clowns. 

which is why i was so startled as i sat down to read psalm 72 this morning. as i read the ancient song, i was stunned by its unabashed hopefulness in the government.  of course, the government was the king, and in this case, the poet asks God to give judgment and righteousness to the king.  but then it goes even further, in a kind of shameless confidence: "Let (the king) save the children of the needy...let him live as long as the sun...let him fall like rain upon the fresh-cut grass."

i understand that many are going to read messianic prophecy into this psalm, and i understand that if you go looking for Jesus in the words of the ancient hebrews, you can find (fore)shadows of him all over the place.  but let us not forget that this is at a time in the history of the hebrew people when there was some pretty serious hope being put in the role of the king; that God could endow a leader with god-like gifts, to lead the people in righteousness and justice, deliverance and freedom.

so, at its core, this ancient song is a song of hope in the leaders of the nation.  and that is jarring to me in my election-cycle-stupor.  but there is something fundamentally critical in this song; something that i think many american christians have forgotten about.  the prayer for the king in psalm 72 is a prayer for justice.  it is a prayer for the poor.  it is a prayer that those who receive the mantle of leadership of a nation will receive it with humility, with an eye out for the oppressed, and with the ability to crush the oppressors.  it is an honest and almost desperate prayer.  it reminds me that perhaps, rather than burying my head in the sand, or arguing about politics on social media, i should be busy praying for our leaders.  i should vote, if i am prepared to engage in that civic gift/responsibility.  and i should pray.

and it reminds me of one more thing, too.  that we stand at a different moment in history than the poet-of-old.  we can look through the lens of Jesus, who talked about a new kind of kingdom, in which the first are last and the poor are blessed.  we know that there is no president, no ruler, no admiral or dictator who can separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ, who is our King. Jesus brings justice to the oppressed.  he heals the broken.  he brings unity in the divided places.  he brings hope to the places of despair.  he falls like rain upon both the rich and the poor.  he isn't republican or democrat or even american, for crying out loud.  he is love and he is the one true king.  we need not live in fear about who will win or what will happen if someone doesn't win.  we don't need to live in fear about any of it, because the King is alive and well.


Comments

Deb said…
Thank you.

Popular posts from this blog

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …