Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The work we cannot leave up to politicians.

In the wake of last month's bitter local, state, and federal elections, I'm putting together a new American Federal Government class for the spring semester. In preparing one of the weekly devotionals I (not for the first time) came across these simple, stunning thoughts from Shane Claiborne:

“The question for me is not are we political, but how are we political? We need to be politically engaged, but peculiar in how we engage. Jesus and the early Christians had a marvelous political imagination. They turned all the presumptions and ideas of power and blessing upside down. 

The early Christians felt a deep collision with the empire in which they lived, and with politics as usual. They carelessly crossed party lines and built subversive friendships. And we should do that too. 

To be nonpartisan doesn’t mean we’re nonpolitical. We should refuse to get sucked into political camps and insist on pulling the best out of all of them. That’s what Jesus did—challenge the worst of each camp and pull out the best of each. That’s why we see Essenes, Zealots, Herodians, Pharisees, and Sadducees all following Jesus and even joining his movement. But they had to become new creations. They had to let go of some things. Jesus challenged the tax-collecting system of Rome and the sword of the Zealots. 

So to answer the question, I engage with local politics because it affects people I love. And I engage in national politics because it affects people I love. 

Governments can do lots of things, but there are a lot of things they cannot do. A government can pass good laws, but no law can change a human heart. Only God can do that. A government can provide good housing, but folks can have a house without having a home. We can keep people breathing with good health care, but they still may not really be alive. The work of community, love, reconciliation, restoration is the work we cannot leave up to politicians. 

This is the work we are all called to do. We can’t wait on politicians to change the world. We can’t wait on governments to legislate love. And we don’t let policies define how we treat people; how we treat people shapes our policies.” -Shane Claiborne, http://www.redletterchristians.org/election-day-dialog-political/

It seems to me that the most crucial questions are:

How are Christians called to demonstrate love, justice, mercy, and humility through our political engagement?

And how can "subversive friendships" help strengthen our bonds of both theological and political community?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas is.

"Christmas is the promise that the God who came in history and comes daily in mystery will one day come in glory. 

God is saying in Jesus that in the end everything will be all right. 

Nothing can harm you permanently, no suffering is irrevocable, no loss is lasting, no defeat is more than transitory, no disappointment is conclusive. 

Jesus did not deny the reality of suffering, discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and death; he simply stated that the Kingdom of God would conquer all of these horrors, that the Father's love is so prodigal that no evil could possible resist it."

-Brennan Manning, Reflections for Ragamuffins