Sometimes it seems that the most important part of an email is the
subject heading. Will it get the email
opened and read, or not? I'm hoping that
this one has you opening and reading.
I've promised weekly connections, and this is the second one. I'm imagining that these notes will have both
practical and inspirational content. I'm
not sure that I'll always succeed on either front, but it feels worth the
effort. This week . . . well, this week
I've likely taken a bite that's just too big.
But you opened it-or bit on the bait-and I'm truly hoping that you'll
have the patience to read on.
Religion and Politics
Against polite advice, I've always mixed my faith and my politics. And yet I have rarely presumed to impose or
even reveal my political decisions and ideals in specific ways. In the big picture, being a Christian-or trying
to be-causes me to see the world through the lens of the Gospel. For me, that means forgiveness, compassion,
change, growth, inclusion. It means hope
and commitment and responsibility to and for each other. It means life itself, and each life, is
sacred. And so somehow I try to
translate that faith into my life as a local and global citizen. I suppose it could be said that I vote my
values. Or my faith. And I know that many do the same. What I like to do is share my faith and do
the best I can to hold myself accountable to that faith. Rarely do I think I should hold others
accountable to my faith. Share, learn,
consider-and then do the best I can, while others do the same.
However, recent debate around our State Referendum 71 has put all of my
political and religious tolerance to the test-precisely because one religious
perspective is being promoted as "God's mandate" for Washington State Law. Imagine that. If you are so inclined, you can navigate to
the website of Protect Marriage
Washington and get a sense of what challenges me in their promotion of a
position. I guess it will be little
surprise for people to know that my own faith, and heart, call me to active
support of Referendum 71 because I believe that the Referendum seeks to treat
people as equals and is respectful of what is sacred in all of us. But I could never imagine telling anyone this
was "God's mandate." I will support this
ballot initiative because of what I believe, and I can ask others to consider
what they believe when they make decisions about our shared, civic life. But it is cynical, and manipulative, to claim
issues such as this as the direct word of God.
I take God, and people, far too seriously to think that I can easily
speak for either of them. I hope you and
I will be thoughtful, faithful people when we vote-this November, and every
November. I hope that we will consider
what the Gospel means to us, and then act, vote, live accordingly.
OK, that's religion and politics.
Now let's try talking about money!
As we know, our Annual Giving Campaign has begun, and our community of
faith is actively seeking support for another year together. As I said on Sunday night, I hope we will all
step up, step in, and make
a pledge. Without question, pledge
support means so much-because knowing that we have support means that we can then
get on with being the grace-filled community we strive to be. Please pledge in any way that works for
you-but please do. And thank you. Enough said!
And, the Flu!
Here's something that is a human marvel: big, strong, creative,
brilliant humans are not immune-to anything!
Microscopic viruses and errant cells remind us that we are vulnerable,
in spite of our great pretense not to be.
And so we are reminded with this latest wave of N1H1. I know many of you have had firsthand
experience with this virus, and I also know that it is a thoughtful concern in
our common life as a community. There
are tons of kids at Grace, and lots of other "vulnerable" folk, and all of us
are in weekly, personal contact. Many
churches are trying to offer advice to members about minimizing exposure and
vulnerability. A recent New
York Times article describes some of the helpful measures, and extremes. (And you should laugh that one article can
bring together the Eucharist and Beer Pong!)
At Grace we keep the "purell" handy.
You'll find sanitizer dispensers in classrooms, bathrooms and in the
kitchen. Be practical: use them. And then there is that "common cup." I wish I had some magic advice here, but at
least let me offer something practical.
If you are worried about viral vulnerability then let the cup pass. Stay in the communion circle as the chalice
comes by, but keep your arms folded across your chest. Dipping the bread is really not a
helpful/healthy alternative-particularly because the N1H1 virus crystals like
to live on our hands. Yes, I disagree
here with the advice the Bishop offered-but so be it! I myself will continue to use the common
cup-and I think that for most of us, it is safe and fine. But more than that, I hope that you will do
what feels best for you and your family.
We are in this together, and we stand in that circle together, as we break bread together. God is present in all of that, and in
Peace. And thanks for your
patience. Next week? Short and sweet!