Righteousness Exalteth a Nation

Wow—what a Sunday. We had 150 in attendance for the All Saint’s Sunday service, we had a full Great Hall to enjoy the fall harvest lunch that “Karen and Co.” (Karen Manera, Lana Howard, Jan Griffiths, and Carol Ghere) made for everyone, and then we heard inspiring snapshots of ministry from the vantage points of diverse ministry areas within the church at our Charge Conference. After all was said and done, I put down the seat in our car and napped with the windows down with Julianna doing the same in the mall parking lot while Wesley got his haircut. What a day—and it wouldn’t have been so wonderful if it hadn’t been for the great leadership in the church. The worship committee noticed a “missing link” in our communion service and started offering gluten-free wafers to express our genuine desire that “all may receive.” The hard work of Dan Call and his nephew Jeffery ensured that the Great Hall was ready to host the Charge Conference. Jessica Colvin, Carly Fussel, and Steffanie Powers came through when I asked them last minute if they could provide childcare for the charge conference. And, since Bruce mentioned this in his Trustees report after many had left, it deserves repeating that Dan, Traci, Karen, Jessica, Kathy, Paul, and others have really picked up a lot of extra responsibilities since our full time custodian has been injured on the job and out of commission. The “extra miles” provided by our staff and folks living near the church has seen the church through a difficult loss. What a great team!
It is obvious to me that our District Superintendant is impressed with what is going on at UUMC. One thing that will be going on this coming Tuesday is that our church will be a voting location, as it always is. Though not many of our own congregation votes at our church, I hope that our church would be in the minds of our members as well when we go to the polls on Tuesday. Proverbs 14 says quite simply, “Righteousness exalteth a nation.” We’ve put that bit of wisdom up on our courtyard marquee in the hopes that it may be a subtle reminder for those going to vote. And in an election year when every pollster and media outlet agrees that the number one concern among voters is the economy, may we as people of faith be reminded that it is the economy of the poor and dispossessed that most defines “righteousness” in God’s law. And it was when a nation became wrapped up in its own pursuits and wealth and neglected its poor and downtrodden that the Holy Spirit came blowing out of the voice of the prophets to demand and envision justice. I imagine the economy will indeed take precedence in the minds of voters on Tuesday, but it is my hope that we as people of faith don’t stop thinking about the impact of the economy on our own lives and aspirations, but especially on those with little financial resources of their own. Can you imagine the changes to our government if Jesus was on the ballot for president? I wonder if he’d be elected? In his compelling book, Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals, a friend and “new monastic” whom the Conference Young Adult Council has brought to Oklahoma before, Shane Claiborne, lays out that vision. (I just ordered that book for our church library, by the way. Look for it soon!) In it, he says, “The original plan of God was that Israel would be set apart to redeem the nations. This was not a plan to reform the pagan nations around it—like making the neighboring Assyrian empire better at doing empire. Rather, God would save the world through fascination, by setting up an alternative society on the margins of empire for the world to come and see what a society of love looks like. It would be the city on a hill that God would use to light up the world, drawing the world back to God.”
I like that idea—“saving the world through fascination,” don’t you? In many ways, that has been the American gift to the world of creating a democracy that has fascinated the imaginations of people all over the world—but perhaps there is something more we can do—more perfectly follow through on that invitation heralded by Emma Lazarus and affixed to our Statue of Liberty,
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!