- Wednesday, November 01, 2006
St. Andrew's has officially taken a position that it is against our church policy to hand out partisan political materials on campus. In the last presidential election, some churches had a voter guide with questions of a theological nature that, if answered biblically, would have pointed to the reelection of President Bush. The National Council of Churches had a similar voter guide questionnaire with carefully selected questions that, if answered theologically correctly, would have pointed to the election of John Kerry. In defiance of church policy, both lists were circulated before and after church services here in our plaza. As I studied the two lists, I myself would have liked to have put the questions together in alternate sequence, because both lists raised the right questions to be asked of thinking Christians. Such a list would have been challenging and perplexing. As your pastor, I would have urged you to pray over each of the questions and then ask the Holy Spirit to help you vote christianly, realizing no one political party has all the answers.
As we come into this political season, part of my responsibility to edify and build you up is to urge you to take seriously your citizenship. Think deeply on the issues of our day. Defend the right of all political opinions to be expressed in a free society. Let's not try to silence the voices of political action. That's the great privilege we have of living in a free society. At the same time, let's endeavor to think christianly in a way that goes beyond the simplistic assertions of any political action group that is working on behalf of any one political candidate or any one political party. Jesus Christ is Lord of all, and part of the job of your pastors is to encourage you to exercise your right of franchise as one whose conscience and actions are guided by the Holy Spirit. This may result in two people who love Jesus Christ voting for opposite candidates, belonging to different political parties, but hopefully espousing God's agenda that involves both personal morality and societal justice. We are here in worship to be nurtured, built up.
In the final analysis, edification comes down to long-term family nourishment. I came across this little article titled "Why Go To Church?":
A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."
This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:
"I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this. They all nourished and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!" When you are DOWN to nothing. . . God is UP to something! Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible! Thank God for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment!
Word Four: Understandability.
That's right. Whatever we do here should be done in a way that is understandable to the largest number of people.
That's why Paul says that speaking in tongues should not be allowed during worship unless there is an interpreter. For someone to stand and go into emotional ecstasy may be very meaningful to that person but not for the rest of us. For the preacher to give esoteric lectures more appropriate for a classroom of doctoral candidates is of very little help to the average worshiper. It is my responsibility to grapple with the deep things of God's Word and to express them in ways that are understandable.
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