November 11, 2018 (Veterans' Day, Armistice Day)
1 Kings 17:8-16
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the strangers;
He upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.
- Psalm 146: 7 – 9
Criminal justice reform ! End jail overcrowding !
Health care for all— especially for those with disabilities!
Mental health care for whoever needs it!
A nation that rewards goodness!
A nation that respects and appreciates folks who come from other countries!
Adequate support for children and elderly folks!
Proper consequences for evildoers!
OK— by the time you see this, the election will probably be over, and we will once again wait and watch to see whether the all-too-human beings who get elected will do their jobs well or poorly, justly or unjustly, cruelly or compassionately.
But as I write this, I am looking forward to voting for candidates who I believe and hope will do right and do it well.
But I have to keep in mind that none of the candidates are God— even if I believe that my picks are generally on the side of the angels. They will make mistakes. They will not entirely succeed. BECAUSE only God does everything perfectly, I have to hold this advice in front of me:
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
(same Psalm, verse 3)
One `criterion for evaluating a leader is, Does she or he serve his or her own interests and those of their friends ? Or does she or he do what is best for the most people, especially the most vulnerable people, even if it hurts her or his own interests ?
This week in the gospel according to Mark, we read how Jesus warned the people against pompous and self-serving leaders. And then we read how Jesus called attention to a poor little widow who gave two tiny copper coins toward maintenance of the Temple. “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” - Mark 12:43-44
Rev. Jimmy Watson, in his book, Jesus Is Still Speaking Through the Gospel of Mark, says: “Have you heard the story of a pig and a chicken being chased around a farmyard by a man who wanted ham and eggs for breakfast ? The pig ran faster because it knew it would have to give its all, while the hen only had to make a contribution.”
Rev. Watson goes on to relate this to something else we will be remembering, this coming Sunday:
“Good stewardship is more than just contributing. Good stewardship is sacrificial. A good example of this truth concerns our veterans. Veterans are men and women who have given, or at least offered, everything they have. They have been asked to make the ultimate sacrifice— hopefully, for a good cause. Soldiers are like the pig in that story rather than the chicken. They know that they may have to give their life for the greater good. That’s the ultimate in terms of stewardship.” (pages 147-148).
As followers of Jesus, we look to his example of giving his all for us and for all humanity. He made the ultimate ultimate sacrifice. “... he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.” - Hebrews 9:26
In the case of the poor widow who gave all she had to live on, I question how that worked out for her ! Did she stagger home afterward, and just starve to death ? Did some of Jesus’ disciples chase her down and invite her to have supper with their group ? Did she step out of the Temple courts onto the street and immediately (miraculously) receive a nice job offer with a pay advance ?
I question a lot of things.
Like, Will we citizens make the effort to watch out for our public officials and hold them accountable to truth and justice ? Will we citizens reclaim the challenge President Kennedy once issued, to “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” ?
Will we prove the truth of the saying,
“Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God...” ?