I’ll admit to being a ‘news junkie,’… that I probably spend too much time surfing news sources, all of which easily leads me into moods of pessimism and despair, what with so much dysfunctional government, and seeming lack of moral principle among so many in high places. But then, I also end each day reflecting on scriptures, these days reflecting on Paul’s prison epistles written to several new Christian communities in Asia Minor (present day Turkey) in the days when the unquestioned government was the Roman Empire, in which Caesar was also considered divine, … and I realize that our encounter with the power structures, the ‘principalities and powers’ is nothing new, that our ancient Christian brothers and sisters confronted political, philosophical, and religious influences in which they didn’t even have the democratic right of a vote.

Still, that doesn’t make it any easier for me to come to grips with a text such as: “Rejoice and give thanks at all times and in all circumstances,” (I Thessalonians 5:18). Or, again, a text such as: “Worship the Lord with mirth and gladness” (Psalms 108:2). Mirth and gladness in the midst of so much that is unjust, distressing to a fault, insensitivity to human need, greed and  exploiting of workers, ethnic and racial prejudice, … and so much more. How do I deal with that? In an un-coming presidential and congressional elections, how do I evaluate the candidates? And on and on …

What it does is bring us back to our calling by Jesus, the King, to be the children of the Light in the midst of the darkness. We are the incarnation of his new creation, his new humanity, and we function as leaven in a lump of dough, permeating it with life and hope and newness by little and little. It may not be all that dramatic at the time, but it is transformative. We are the people who can laugh, rejoice and give thanks because we have hope, we know that no matter how humanly hopeless it all seems, and no matter how dark the darkness, … that: “Jesus shall reign until he has put all of his enemies under his feet.” We are brothers and sisters with the missionary Paul in the jail cell, confident in the triumph of God’s tomorrow.

We are those little people being made into the image of God in our thinking, our behavior, and in our oneness with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (i.e., holiness).

By faith and in our obedience, we can sing with hope: Jesus shall reign, where ‘ere the son, doth it’s successive journeys run.” That hope gives us our peace when humanly it looks so unlikely. But that doesn’t absolve us from examining carefully all we can know about what forms the candidates, and what determines their policies for the future of our communities and nation!

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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  1. Troy Earnest says:


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