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Saturday, November 8, 2008

We, the People

We have elected a new president of the United States of America. With the election of Barack Obama, many place high hopes for change across our land and world.

What are your hopes?

What role does the Church play in providing a prophetic witness to the new Obama administration and to us as nation?

Some did not vote for Barack Obama. What are your hopes (this is an appreciative inquiry)?

As a nation, whether we voted for Obama or not, we are called to be one people. After all it says, "we, the people," not "he, the president." What do you hope "we, the people" will be and do as a nation in these next weeks, months, and years, rooted in our faith and lived out in our nation?

It's a critical time in our nation's history. WDYT?


Lois said...

As God's people we must continue to pray mightily for our country and its leaders. Especially, we must pray that our president-elect and the people surrounding him be given the wisdom needed to deal with all the difficult situations presently troubling our country.
There are so many hopes. I pray that we will find ways to be involved in bringing them to fruition.

Gary Zimmerli said...

I didn't vote for Obama, and was very disappointed that he won. The next morning I had mentioned it to my brother, and he e-mailed this back to me:
1. God is still on the throne.
2. Jesus is still coming again.
3. Worship will still inhabit the praises of His people.
4. The Bible is still the infallible Word of God.
5. There's still room at the cross for you.
6. Prayer still calms the soul.
7. Forgiveness, grace and mercy are still obtainable.
8. Heaven is still a free gift of God.
9. The Holy Spirit still fills the hearts of those who ask Him to.
10. God's peace is still the peace that passes all understanding.

Jeff Ozanne said...

I think my hope is that at this critical time we find ways to move beyond partisanship. Four years ago Bush believed his election gave him a mandate and he was going to act on it, but he never generated the support of the 48-49% of the population who voted for the other guy. Simply because the democrats are currently in a commanding position in two branches of government does not mean that all the solutions for moving forward should be based on that mandate, but instead we must continue to work for consensus and unity. The stakes our high in our country, and I think the church needs to continue to remind the world that no one wins when others lose. I would hope that our new president and our new congress, and all of us in our ways can remember that.

Jerad said...

I hope that I can trust the decision-making process of the world's largest economic and military institution. I hope we keep our commitments to people around the world living with AIDS, support the Millenium Development Goals, and increase our foreign aid. In four years when I meet somebody who didn't get any medical care for their bad tooth or mental illness, I hope it will be because they chose not to seek it, not because they were unable to access it.

Thabo Mbeki, when elected in South Africa, said he expected the churches to hold him accountable to their vision of the gospel. The church should be a plumbline against which actions and policy decisions are measured. This means helping our members to articulate where God calls them to land on policy issues, and connecting them with the tools to become kingdom-makers. (Ideally the same role regardless of who is President.) As always, the church should be careful not to be subsumed by patriotism or personality but to represent to policymakers what it means to love our neighbor in the community of nations.

The last question is a toughie. From a Christian context I feel uncomfortable theologically interpreting "we, the people" because it's from a document that was written for a different purpose. ("We, the people of the US" <> "We, the body of Christ")

Thinking of "we, the parts of the body of Christ with the gift of American citizenship," I hope we will strengthen our prophetic voice and implement real change, that those who struggle to see God now will in the coming years come to know God through personal relationship and through the charity & justice works of God's breathing people.

Philip said...

I did not vote for Obama. I am concerned that we are asking the government to do what we should be doing personally. When Jesus told us to help the poor, I don't recall that he asked us to have someone else do it for us.I believe we have to help Jesus enter the hearts of people and when we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will do all in our power to help those less fortunate than ourself. The Wesley's taught that accepting Jesus should be done first and then we will visit the prisons, help the poor and bring them to the Lord. I am concerned that to many are voting for their existence rather than trying to help each other. I pray that we will not worship the government over our Lord.

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to see what this coalition of the hopeful can do with and for our country. There are so many people who previously felt unrepresenteded and uninvolved, including my young adult children and those families of color all over our country. The world has responded to Obama as a beacon of hope, especially for those who are not white. There is a lot of potential here - let's not waste it! We have tons of problems that seem insurmountable, but with a coalition and lots of hard work,we can make a difference that was impossible in a polarized world.

David said...

Our country has taken a positive step forward in electing Senator Obama. Whether people voted for him or not, whether people agree with his proposals or not, electing the first person whose ancestry is not exclusively European, is a positive development in our nation’s history, and both Senator McCain, in his gracious and magnanimous concession speech, and President Bush, in his congratulatory remarks noted this positive step.

I have hopes and expectations for this new administration, knowing that the road ahead will be challenging. I hope and expect that the Obama administration will begin the work of repairing our nation’s tattered reputation in the international community. I would like to see an end to torture as a means of interrogation. I look forward to having a foreign policy based more on conversation and negotiation. I expect that this administration will work diligently to find ways to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in such a way that the futures for these countries are a bit brighter.

I hope and expect that this administration will foster policies that make our economy work better for more people. Few have commented on this, but one factor in the recent mortgage crisis is the stagnation of wages for many Americans over the past number of years. As the cost of basic dimensions of “the American dream” have gone up in price – a home in a safe neighborhood, a home which allows children to attend a decent school, post-secondary education – real adjusted wages have barely risen for the broad middle class in our country. I expect the Obama administration will work to establish economic policies which help more people benefit from the wealth our society creates, helping the middle class to stay middle class and helping more persons move out of poverty.

I hope and expect that the Obama administration will take global warming seriously. I expect that we will work with other nations to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses. I expect that we will work more diligently to develop alternative sources of energy which help power an economy without doing such drastic damage to our planet.

Beyond any particular policies, my deepest hope for this new time is that it will be a time to hope and dream again about our common life. I was ten years old when the sixties ended, and while I appreciate much about that time, especially much of the popular music of that time, I do not romanticize the 1960s. At the same time, at their best, this decade was a decade for dreaming, for dreaming of a better world, a richer common life. Early in the decade, Martin Luther King, Jr. dared to dream aloud and in public of a better nation, a newer world. In the middle of the decade, Lyndon Johnson, at the University of Michigan, dared to speak of a great society. “The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and to reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.” Johnson’s particular programs may not all have worked well in building that great society. Contrary to some popular opinion, he did not intend for it to be the work of government alone. Being a truly tragic character, Johnson was willing to risk this wonderful dream to pursue an ill-conceived war, and the dream died, and after the Nixon presidency we retreated into a deep cynicism about our government. I want us to dream again. I invite you to find Lyndon Johnson’s speech on-line and listen to it.

I would argue that we in the church should be realistic dreamers. We who have for a Lord one executed by the legitimate government of his time should know that government can be less than a force for good in the world. But we dare not abandon government as a potential force for good in the world. We need to be a realistic people, and a people who dream. As Christians we have a dream, a dream of justice rolling down like waters, a dream of justice and peace embracing, a dream of a time when people from all nations and groups will stream together into a new world. My favorite phrase for the kingdom of God is God’s dream for the world. God’s dream for the world is at the heart of our faith, a dream of justice, peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion, beauty, love.

To be realistic dreamers, to work toward a newer world, to invite others to be captivated by this dream and by the God of this dream is always our calling, no matter who our elected leaders are.

Anonymous said...

(I still haven't committed to a Google identity. I am not really anonymous. I am Joel Xavier.)

I voted for Obama with hope and as an expression of my optimistic hope. The prerogative of the leader is to cast the vision.

When I left to go to the Minnesota caucus months ago, I anticipated supporting Senator Clinton. On the way I pondered leadership. I asked myself, which of these candidates has the traits of type five leadership? (See Good to Great by Jim Collins) I was overwhelmed with the impression that Senator Obama was a far better leader than Clinton. Later I read “Dreams from my Father” by Barack Obama. It is not a political outline of goals. It is a narrative, a painting of life and values. I see values that center on people from the context of the biblical “neighbor”. In Obama I see the value of “neighbor” extending from a person on the street, to an entire nation on the other side of the world.

It is my hope that the followers of Obama will forget the election chant, “Yes we did.” And return to the words that express a deeper hope for change in the world, “Yes we can.” It is my hope that Obama will continue on the path he has traveled. It is my hope that Obama will live up to my impression of his level of leadership. The first thing for Collins’ level five leadership is getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus); together with getting these people in the right seats.

Mickey said...

I hope we can learn that peace is not just absence of war but an intentional way of living. I hope that our leaders understand about positive and negative peace and can lead the country into understanding and living active peace both at home and in the world.

ironic1 said...
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ironic1 said...

I did vote for Obama and, for a change, voted *for* a candidate instead of *against* another candidate.

My hope is that the Obama administration will be one of healing...

Healing for our country and the things that divide us, including race and ethnicity and ideologies.

Healing for our relations with foreign powers which have seen our country as aggressive and unilateral in our use of military and economic power.

Healing for our health care system which is utterly broken. We spend more than any other country on health care and yet our service is ranked 37th among all nations.

Healing for our world which has suffered under unsustainable energy policies.

I agree with those who have written that we need to take responsibility to fix these issues on a personal and local level, but we need a leader who will take these issues seriously and rally a nation to these ends.

I pray and hope that Mr. Obama will do just that.

Duane Lookingbill said...

There is wisdom in asking what are your hopes, rather than isolating any of our hopes, or asking about HOPE in and of itself, alone.

Thank God prophetic witness is not merely subject to the debate of either a two-party, three-branches of government system, or even to a constitutional form of governance, let alone the nation-state! Although, it is surely, and perhaps tragically subject to both all of that and more than all of the above. In the past the true role of the prophet in our nation has spelled self-sacrifice in the extreme, and we can name the martyrs of the cause. But the question is the role of the Church, to speak only of the prophet is to reduce providence, or dissect the grace of God; could it be possible to speak here of a covenant between an administration and a nation, as it were?

I suspect the truth is not much can be done for the shape "we, the people" are in immediately -- who was it that said, in effect, "Hope abounds, there's just none for us."? The real prophetic witness might be in accord... However, this is why we need -- indeed must have, and will have -- the role of the Church in providing a prophetic witness all the more! Moreover, my deeper suspicion is the Church's role will relate to the very matters about which "we, the people" are oblivious, and to those about which our visceral responses have heretofore overdetermined our habits.

I would think any speaking other than the "Australian ballot," the Electoral College, or the so-called "popular vote" (and this last is, I believe, the most speculative of these three) is ideology. Which brings full circle the question of hopes -- as the problem here, as elsewhere, is the predicament of moving in our speech from 'I' to 'we'. If God is the one to whom all are related equally -- and the only God -- who speaks for us? We who cannot speak for God, and perhaps never purely even of God, nevertheless speaking about God anyway -- because we must -- note sometimes God does not speak, but is silent.

Thank God for Jesus Christ, who with the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns with the one God, now and forever!

And, on second thought, my hopes may just be those of the table set for the beloved community around the sharing of which our differences are respected, the poor are present along side the rich, and there is always room for the stranger... [Can anyone tell me who said that?]

timnolan7 said...
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timnolan7 said...
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