Lehigh County has been notified by U.S. District Judge Edward Smith that he has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs,
the Freedom From Religious Foundation, an organization that promotes the separation of church and state,
His order is that they must remove the cross from the county’s flags, buildings, letterhead and legal documents, as well as its website, saying it is in violation of the Constitution. (Contact Reporter of The Morning Call, Sept. 25, 2017)
We know we are living in a time when Christians are walking a fine line when it comes to practicing our faith in public life, and courts have become the place to bring charges and counter charges.
Recently, when working with a staff of a public agency, I was told it was illegal to give any details of a case to the congregation, and I had to admit we were praying for the individual. The staff person’s response was, "Well, I guess we can’t do anything about your praying for our client.”
For the early Christians, that was a charge issued by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Rome and his letter to Timothy, which reads: (1Timothy 2: 1-2)
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
“For kings and those in authority!” In the first three centuries of communities of Christian, those government officials were often enemies and persecutors of Christ’s followers – overseeing or condoning the execution of eleven of the twelve disciples, of Stephen, and of Paul, and countless numbers after them, on into to today;
and yet, the charge is, “Pray for them!”
“Pray for Politicians!” Pray for public officials, both friend and foe, both of our party affiliation or opponents of principles and causes and issues we strongly support, or their causes which we strongly oppose.
Pray, using the Scripture appointed to be read on this Sunday on the calendar of the Church to give us the words for “Our Prayer for Politicians” before Tuesday’s elections!
Jesus’ Gospel words remind us to pray for those who perpetuate the the arrogance and indifference and hypocrisy of politicians who tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.
And the Old Testament reading reminds us to pray for individuals who are idealistic, approachable, totally committed to do what will be for the good of the public, believing God still lays a hand of commissioning that carries forward and personalizes the announcement: Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom,
because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses.
“Pray for Politicians!” – Pray for Moses-like individuals who lay a praying hand on those holding a public office;
pray for them to be filled with the spirit of wisdom.
For Scott Shephard it was the “hand” of the Black musician, actor, and author, Daryl Davis, whose “wisdom” has led KKK groups to abandon their vows. It began in 1983, after Davis played a gig to an all-white audience in Frederick, Maryland, and a KKK member approached him to compliment him on his piano playing. The two struck up a friendly conversation which led to Daryl Davis getting Roger Kelly to quit the Klan and give him his robe and hood of the Imperial Wizard. Daryl’s garage is filled with those discarded hoods and robes which he is saving to start a “Museum of the Klan,” which he recounts in the film “Accidental Courtesy.”
His intention is receiving protests from his own African-American community to whom he says, “I appeal to people’s common sense. I don’t seek to convert them but if they spend time with me, they can’t hate me. [The Klansman] sees that I want the same thing for my family as he does for his … if you can work on the things in common, that’s how you build friendship.” (Quoted from /www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/black-man-daryl-davis-befriends-kkk-documentary-accidental-courtesy)
“Our Prayer for Politicians!” – who are giving us stories of present day people who like Joshua, as they live out his wisdom; which encourages us to add Paul’s words to our prayer, asking that those in public offices who are, or need to become, individuals whose conduct is: pure, upright, and blameless…. (who) dealt with each…like a father /mother/parent of children, (voters and constituents who are their family), urging and encouraging … and pleading that (they) lead a life worthy of God.
In one word: SERVANTS; politicians who see themselves as servants of the people who elect them to their office, whom we, in turn, serve through prayers, so that together we work for Jesus’ Gospel blessing: All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
A story from Sherman Roger’s book, “Foreman: Leaders or Drivers?”tells about Roger who worked for a summer in an Idaho logging camp where the superintendent told him to fire the immigrant worker, Tony, who grumbled and growled all day, but then said he’d feel bad about that, “I know he hates everyone and everything, but he comes in first and leaves last, and there hasn’t been an accident for eight years on the hill where he works.”
Roger went to Tony the next day and let him know he was in charge and was going to fire him, but changed his mind because of the good words the superintendent had said. When Tony heard that, tears rolled down his face and he asked, “Why he not tell me eight years ago?”
12 years later when Roger met Tony, he was the superintendent of the railroad for one of the largest logging companies in the West, and Roger asked what had happened to make him so successful; he said it was that one minute he talked to him. What was said in one minute changed Tony’s life!
One minute, just a one-minute prayer for politicians, the oppressive and the benevolent, using the words in the Scripture we hear today for our pre-election day ministry of prayer; “OUR Prayer for Politicians!” Amen.
Sunday's Sending words: (Kenyan Prayer)
From cowardice that dares not face new truth
From laziness that is contented with half truth,
From arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord, deliver us.