December 15, 2008

Getting Political

I am usually very careful not to get into overtly political issues in my preaching — I think the Gospel is usually clear enough on its own not to require me to dot any I's or cross any T's. However, the readings yesterday seemed to call for a more direct response. My sermon was called, "A Man Like John" -- including some reminiscences of JFK, but also the nature of the ministry of John the Baptist. You can read the whole thing, and even listen to an MP3 if you are of a mind, over at my sermon blog. Here is an excerpt:

I don’t need to tell you that I heard a similar voice speak out in the campaign leading up to the election, and I’ve heard that same voice since. It is the voice of the man our nation chose, by a significant margin, to be our next President. He too could have offered the easy promises of wealth to the rich trickling down to us below; of health care provided universally but without cost. But he has taken a page from John’s book — John the Baptist and John Kennedy — to be straight with us, to challenge us, and call us to stand up to the challenge. It isn’t about him. It is not he upon whom we’ve pinned our hopes — except the hope that he will inspire us to do our best, not to ask what he can do for us, but what we can do for each other, working together, helping to turn our hopes into action to make this land, this world, a better place.

He is challenging us to “make straight the paths” of this land so that the poor and weak do not stumble. He is calling us to sacrifice and contribute to the good of all so that a fair and equitable health care system can be instituted, so that, God willing, no more shall there be an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live a lifetime. He is calling us to a world in which one does not plant while another harvests the crops, to a world in which the worker is compensated fairly, without regard to age or gender or race, and in which the laborers receive the fair return of their labor. He is calling us to a world in which those with much will indeed be challenged to share what they have — as John the Baptist did when he said that the one with two coats should share with the one who has none, and the one with plenty of food should do the same: and that’s not socialism; that’s the Gospel!

Barack Obama is no more the Messiah than was John the Baptist — but both of them call us to our better selves, to responsibility and willingness to bear each others’ burdens, so that all might benefit. We live in difficult times no less than did John the Baptist, times of war and want, of poverty and need, and of greed and selfishness. We cannot by our own efforts bring about the kingdom of God — but we can make straight his paths. We can prepare the way. We can all be men and women like John.

Read or listen to it all, if you are so moved.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Anonymous said...

Well said and thank you. Mr. Obama does indeed call us each to be better and fairer and more compassionate. I hope we all can heed the call and transform America. We can once again return to being a vision for the world. We will never be perfect, but we can be better!

June Butler said...

Lovely, Tobias. Overtly political? I think not. The election is over. Your analogies to the two Johns is apropos. Let's work with Obama to prepare the way for a more just and equal society, according to the way laid out in the Gospel.

“why doncha go pahk the cah.” No one will say that to you, will they?

When we visited Boston, we were looking for the way to the harbor, and the man we asked did not know what we were saying. Finally, he caught on and said, "Oh, the hahbah!"

June Butler said...

Oh dear! "" What's sad is that I used "Preview". I sound like Bush. "Is your children learning?" Apparently not, back in the dark ages of the 1950s.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Fret not, dear Mimi. I did not even notice it. I think it has been shown that text on a computer screen is much harder to check for accuracy than on a printed page.

Given much in the blogosphere, I think that probably should go without saying!

But as we say in this part of the world, "here's to youse..." ( and I just realized that even when the "you" is an individual we still use the plural form of a verb... timing, I know "you" is plural even if you are singular.)

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

And here's to not using preview and also using voice recognition software to save my aching shoulder: "timing" in the previous note should have been "the thing is."