After the Election

Something reached out and struck me regarding the reading from the book of Revelation on All Saints. It has something to do with the Lamb. The Lamb has been a central figure in my understanding of Jesus ever since I visited Knock. Mary did not speak. She instead directed our attention to the Lamb on the altar. The one who like the Suffering Servant was led to slaughter. The Lamb won salvation for us not by appeasing an angry father god but rather by his nonviolent response to grave injustice. What got my attention was the 144,000 standing white-robed around the throne of the Creator and the Lamb. They had survived the persecution of the Romans and were now singing “heavenly” hymns and praising the Creator and the Lamb. Glory and honor and power! The Creator promises eternal salvation to those who are faithful to the Lamb.
The Gospel reading from the beatitudes strikes the same them. Having been to Israel Palestine this past February, I can vividly picture Jesus on the mount teaching his disciples. He is teaching them that the Creator is turning everything upside down. The values of his followers will not be the values of the world. Unfortunately when Constantine entered the scene and the church got into cahoots with the empire the values of the people of God have become more like the values of empire as espoused by political parties.
Yesterday, I was engaged in one of those hot tub conversations that quickly turned to condemnation of the poor. If only they would, etc… they would not be poor. One person who had experience working with people in poverty tried to speak the truth about poverty and programs but to no avail. They should lift themselves up by their bootstraps when they don’t even have boots. We try to teach them how to fish but fail to realize that others have fished out the lake. We repeat the failed American dream—anyone who wants to can make it in America. I grew up poor and. . . . I had to remind them that this was often true for white males and now sometimes white females. Talk about white privilege usually elicits deer in the headlight looks. If you go on to attempt to explain that economic and social structures are designed to keep people, especially People of Color, in their place on the economic and social ladder.
Then, it came. The election talk. You know. Anyone who wants to help the poor and needy is a socialist or, even worse, a communist. Why do people think they have a right to a job? Why do they think they have a right to shelter and food? Why? More of the socialist charges emerged. I said, “It sounds like Matthew 25 to me—feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, etc. . . All of a sudden it was time for people to leave the hot tub.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus praised those who were persecuted for his name. Jesus praised people down through the ages who would be picked upon and persecuted for believing what he taught in season and out of season. These are the same people who are standing before the throne in Revelation.
The election is Tuesday. Thank God it will be over. I cannot wait for the Viagra ads to return to the evening news. Thank God the twisted lies and harsh statements about other human beings will not be in commercials on the evening news. I personally believe one candidate will do more to alleviate human suffering than the other; however, I am not so naïve as to think that any president can turn this country around. The power brokers who make sure they get elected will not let it happen. Why were Dr. King, Jack Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Malcolm X assassinated? Theories abound; however, in more than one instance, it was because they were getting out of control.
Whether you agree with these conspiracy theories or not, the fact remains. The only way our society will be changed is by small groups of committed Christians who espouse the real Gospel values of Jesus. I am certainly not talking about the prosperity gospel—work hard and pray and you will grow rich. No, I am talking about feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. I am talking about giving drink to the thirsty and caring for the sick. I am talking about welcoming the stranger immigrants and visiting those in prison. It is tough work. Often, the peace of Jesus and standing up for these Gospel values brings the sword of division and rejection. It is not socialism to believe that every human person has the right to food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care. It is what Jesus requires of his disciples—to serve the common good and make sure every person is valued and has what they need in order to live a human life.
Eventually, however, it will also bring us before the throne of the Lamb. We will be singing and rejoicing because we will have worked to make sure that everyone has life in abundance. The Inclusive Bible translation of Jn 10:10 is my favorite, “I have come that they might have life and that they might have everything they need.
We have a few days until Tuesday. Some of the best advice I have seen is to ignore the pools and meditate. This too shall pass (perhaps like a kidney stone!). Enjoy the Sabbath rest on Sunday. We will need it on Wednesday. No matter who wins we will go back to work putting feet on Jesus’ vision. We will be the eyes and ears and hands and feet that translate the Sermon on the Mount into political and social reality.

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