Election Season Is Dangerous

In the first chapter of Genesis (the first book of the Bible) we are told that human beings were created in the image of God. Then in the book of Exodus when Moses delivers the 10 commandments to the people, there are two commandments that are related to each other and to the idea of being created in the image of God. One is about making idols or fashioning our own god or gods. The other is about misusing the name of God. 
You see, we were created in the image of God but we keep trying to create God in our image. We like to fashion our God to agree with us and do what we want. We talk about God like our “good buddy” or personal servant, doing what we want and believing what we believe. 
Once President Lincoln was asked, “Is God on your side?” He replied, “I don’t know but I hope that I am on the side of God.” I sure appreciate that. I know it sounds strange for a Pastor to say, but I think we should watch out for being too sure of ourselves about God and God’s will.
Election season is dangerous for this kind of self-righteousness and smug certainty. I will not attempt to speak for God or tell people how to vote. What I will do is draw from scriptural themes and values along with the social principles of the United Methodist Church. And I will gladly share my thoughts with an openness for dialogue. I will share the values and principles that I think our faith tradition calls us to be attentive to. 
Here are some of them: Stewardship of the earth, all human beings created in God’s image, care for the poor and economic justice, welcome for the immigrant and sojourner, peacemaking, liberating the oppressed, and the golden rule as a guide to live by.
I could go on, but these are the first to come to mind. I know that enacting values and principles can be difficult. As they say, “the devil is in the details.”  
Let’s just say this is the beginning of the Pastor Steve voting guide. Could we start with the list above as a guide when we vote. What would you add to the list?

Is one hundred years a long time?

Is one hundred years a long time? It depends on what we are talking about. Geologically, it is not even a drop in the bucket. A person living one hundred years is a very long time. What about social change? As I write this, I am aware that today is the one hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
I was ordained a Deacon in the United Methodist Church in 1981. About half the ordinands that year were female. But many churches at that time did not want a woman pastor. My clergy sisters had a hard time gaining acceptance. Last semester, Karla wrote a paper on the ordination of women in the Methodist Church and the early trail blazers. 1880 Anna Howard Shaw was one of the first women ordained. She was also quite a leader in the suffrage movement. However, women were not given the full privileges of ordination until 1956. There was much struggle along the way. 
This week, the first Afro/Asian American woman will be nominated  for the Democratic party ticket to serve as Vice-President of the United States of America. This will be the fourth time in the history of the United States that a woman has been on the ticket. The last one of course being four years ago when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. 
Be ready for some sexist comments like “nasty woman.” It seems like we should be past this on the 100th anniversary of the woman’s right to vote. But these attitudes are insidious. Makes me think of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the movement for LGBTQ rights. 
Change takes time and we get impatient, as we should. But some things don’t change in a lifetime. United Methodists should always be taking the lead for equal rights for all people, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. 
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There  
is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for all are one in Christ Jesus.  (Galatians 3: 26 – 28)
Shalom my friends,
Pastor Steve

Pastor Steve Lundin