I am for Christ
Sermon delivered St. Thomas Church, Epiphany 3A, Jan. 26, 2020
I am a Republican. No wait - I think I am a Democrat. That’s not it, either. Independent. That’s it, I’m an Independent. Or is it Green Party?
Does it really matter, these days? As our republic feigns democratic truth, as our elected representatives pretend actual representation?
Seeking truth - these days - isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In December, it was inevitable, that
that the elected Democrats in the House would - in fact - impeach the President, just as inevitable as it is right now, that our elected Republicans in the Senate will acquit the President.
I am a Republican. No, I am a Democrat. No, I am for Paul. No, I am for Apollos. The absurdity of it all. Which is why - Paul added emphasis when he added his own words:
I am for Christ. Mocking the divisive Christians at Corinth. I am for Christ, or to borrow from the Hebrew Scriptures, As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
In High School, I read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The novel quickly became my favorite,
so last year, when my son, Tate, decided he would read Moby Dick, I decided to re-read it.
And I have been re-reading it - and re-reading it - for the past five months. This time, I’m wondering, Will it ever end? Page after page of intricate details about whales, and page after page of equally intricate descriptions of the whaling industry. I’m only halfway through, but fortunately for me, I already know the ending.
I keep thinking about that great white fish and - not so much Ahab, but about that old dog, Jonah. You remember Jonah and the whale. God asked Jonah to preach to the ancient city of Ninevah. Jonah demurred, so God sent the whale to swallow Jonah whole.
I’ve been re-defining that whale in my own mind, as I read Moby Dick - What if the fish
was not just God’s instrument, but actually God? What if God swallowed the prophet? Whole. What if God swallows us when we stray from the straight and narrow.
Can’t you just imagine, the intestinal juices of God’s judgment bleaching Jonah ghostly white, so that by the time God spit Jonah up - Jonah scared the be-Jesus
out of the people of Ninevah. Like a man returned from the grave.
God as a whale, which reminds me of another old dog, St. Patrick. Legend holds it - that St.
Patrick would throw pagans into a hole on the isolated Station Island - Overnight. The pagans would suffer such horrific visions of purgatory that - by the next morning, they would either be Christian, or dead.
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to throw a few of our politicians in that hole overnight. You see, I am wondering, whatever happened to statesmen? And I think using the word,
statesman (rather than gender-neutral) here, is appropriate - it better-conveys the idea
of a person for whom truth matters.
Truth before politics; integrity before points.
My favorite bumper sticker says, God is not Republican. Nor Democrat.
I am for Paul, I am for Apollos. No, I am for Christ.
Indeed, the Corinthian church was terribly divided, with some claiming Paul as their hero,
others Peter, and still others, this fellow Apollos. Stop bickering, Paul wrote them. Adding, where is the love?
You remember Paul’s version of love: love is patient, love is kind; love does not demand
its own way.
Paul didn’t pen these words to make sure couples would have a happy and poetic wedding ceremony. He wrote these words to a deeply divided church. Or today, to a deeply divided country.
I am for Paul, I am for Apollos. Really, now. I am for Christ. As for me and my house,
we will serve the Lord.
I am in favor of the Democrats. I am in favor of the Republicans. No, I am in favor of Peace.
There’s a line in the movie, An American President, when Andrew Shepherd, the
President, holds an off-the cuff press conference. America isn’t easy, he says.
America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ‘cause it’s gonna
put up a fight.
You gotta want it bad - and you know why - and more, how - it puts up a fight?
Because - listening - listening from the heart - is hard. Peace - from the soul -
is hard. You have to give away a part of yourself. For peace to work.
Love does not demand its own way.
And like Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, it is not enough to have peace. He says that followers of Christ are called not just feel peace inside, but to make peace outside.
God called on Jonah to make peace with Ninevah. Jesus called on Peter and Andrew,
James and John, to make peace between God and us.
No, God is not a Democrat. Nor a Republican.
Because God knows, we need each other. If you ask me, I think that, first watching the impeachment trial - God changed the channel on his television. Watched reruns of
Mash and Leave it to Beaver. Not because these aren’t important matters - they are -
not because justice doesn’t matter - because it does. But because, in the end, God sees the world differently.
And how we achieve justice often matters as much as the as the justice itself. Citing the Letter to the Corinthians, Senate Chaplain Barry Black prayed this prayer to open the Senate on January 22: Help [these men and women] remember that patriots reside on both sides
of the aisle, that words have consequences and that how something is said can be as important as what is said.
Which brings us to this morning. And this parish. And guess what? I’ve found the love.
Here, with you. On this - the day of our Annual Meeting - I’ve met Jesus here - at church. In the love of patriots on both sides of the aisle. We may not be perfect at it, and need to be reminded of it from time to time - but I find a goodness in you - and your care for one another.
That it doesn’t matter whether your neighbor agrees with you, your love continues. But remember - don’t hold your peace. Make peace.
Do the hard work of of giving up a part of yourself. For the other.
No - I am not a Democrat; I am not a Republican; I am a Christian.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.