Saturday, February 23, 2008

Times are Changing/ Times are Changing Back

It is an exciting time right now and I’m actually glued to it (as much as I can be). I taped the debates and watched them later when I had time, I love listening to the commentators and pundits, most of all I’m excited about the passion I am seeing people have throughout our country. People actually seem like they are getting more inspired, more invested, and seeking to work for something better-- moving forward.

I’ve always loved politics. Well, more like a hobby. I grew up in a political family—mostly prompted by my mother. In my family we watched the evening news every night religiously. We dined with Peter Jennings and during commercials discussed what was happening in the world. It was your duty, your right, and a great opportunity to be a good citizen and take part in the democratic process. I didn’t know I was strange until in middle school I shared with friends that my favorite show was "This Week with David Brinkley"!

Other kids didn’t watch it? How strange! They were missing out on my crush George Stephanopoulos and my hero Cokie Roberts. How I loved watching Cokie Roberts! She was this smart, beautiful, wise woman sitting among men with poise, power, and persistence. They cared what she thought, they listened to her; they were not intimated by her (although they probably were…) but she was there! I knew that I too could speak up-- my voice was important. It is no surprise that among my favorite movies I would list “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” The understanding that I was called to stand up for justice and work for peace- that I was connected to the world through the Body of Christ was so clear even as a child. I had a responsibility to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

As much as I enjoy seeing politics unfold, as much as the political world excites and frustrates me, God did not call me to speak from the Hill, but God did and does continue to call me to help the church to stand as a city on a hill. See Matthew 5: 14-15. I would like to see the same fire and enthusiasm that people have for fighting/ending war, immigration, taxes be in people about spreading the light of Jesus Christ. In my family we talked easily about your duty as a citizen, as we watched the news, but it was never framed as "this is your call as a Christian". Think of all the money that is thrown at commercials, publicists, pundits, and graphics! How the church could use this for further ministry.

I don’t think the answer is to make the church more like the CNN newsroom. No Lou Dobbs or Wolf Blitzer in the pulpit, we don’t need to have catchy music and fancy graphics for everything. Often it seems churches think the answer to getting people excited is to say- Hey the Mall brings people in- let’s be like the mall, or whatever else may be popular. I don’t think that is the answer. I attended an ALL Day workshop on “Restoring Methodism” where authors James and Molly Scott who wrote Restoring Methodism: 10 Decisions for United Methodist Churches in America offered that the answer is in going back. They offer a lot of good in their book (which I'm still reading). In many ways we do need to reclaim our Wesleyan roots, but at the same time we cannot discount the good, creative, and new things we are doing. We can’t act as if all the good that happened in our church was generations ago- what does that say to me and to my generation and the youth of today and the future?

We aren’t called to mimic the hype of what we’re seeing in the political world- as intoxicating as it is. And we don’t have to choose as they are. One party speaks mostly of change and the other of returning to the past. We are theologians! We are the church. We do not look at the world in a linear this or that fashion—rather we are capable of loving the world and holding a theology of tension. We are “BOTH AND” and we can reclaim our Wesleyan heritage, restore the good that we’ve lost while still move progressively forward.


Jean said...

I agree Rev Momma! Early mornings are not a natural time to wake. But more importantly that all the good in the UMC didn't happen in the past. We have an exceptional opportunity to leap into God's future using the transforming energy and discipline of the Wesley brothers! Knowing that the Holy Spirit is always creating a new thing in us and the world. Grace,

Jo said...

Amen, Rev Momma! So often we are afraid to enter into the political arena as Christians. It's too corrupt or too much of this world to become involved for "us Christians". But isn't that exactly what Jesus did? Didn't he speak up to the political authorities of his day on behalf of the oppressed? At the "Reforming Methodism" day they said that as Christians, our hearts should be broken for the poor, hungry and oppressed. If that's true, then we should be out there doing something about the issues that cause so much hurt in our world. Thank you for that reminder!