I received a text message from a relatively new church member on Monday night. He was alerting me that the church had been targeted with campaign posters, yard signs and election notices to VOTE. He also mentioned in passing that ole “so and so” (name withheld to protect the innocent or guilty) isn’t going to like it. Reading between the lines, I surmised that even though ole “so and so” wouldn’t like it, that he on the other hand loved it.
Like I said, the guy is new to the neighborhood. Consequently, I had the immediate thought that he probably didn’t know that the church’s fellowship hall is the location of the voting precinct for our area. Consequently, I was not surprised by his message that political signage had appeared. I responded to his text by providing him that information. I could also read a sigh of relief in his response when he replied back that now the presence of political signage made a lot more sense. I can only imagine how confused he must have been.
I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday afternoon. Consequently, I missed a telephone call from a number I didn’t have in my contact information. Consequently, I didn’t know who had called. Fortunately, the fellow left a voice message asking me to return my call. I’m always more comfortable returning a call when I have the name of the person who telephoned. However, I’ve been known to dial unknowingly and simply tell whoever answered the phone that I noticed I had missed a call. This time it was easy. I had both a number and the fellow’s name.
Truthfully, the fellow whose call I returned thanked me for returning his call. However, almost without pausing to catch his breath, he launched into the purpose of his call. He, too, had seen the campaign posters, yard signs and election notices to VOTE plastered all over our church. To say that he was not a happy camper would not be underestimating his level of disdain. He was fairly articulate in expressing his discontent and reminding me that there should be separation between church and state and that we were clearly out-of-bounds. What were we thinking?
Finally, I had a chance to get a word in edgewise. Rather than being defensive, I opted to articulate that our church wasn’t taking a political stance. We had not put up the signage. As a church we were making no endorsement of any candidate. It was simply our intent to provide a community service by allowing voting to take place in our fellowship hall. Our only intent was to bipartitely ensure that folks in the neighborhood had a convenient place to cast their ballot.
I reinforced for him that in the thirty-seven years since I first became pastor in Henly, never once have I attempted to suggest to anyone how he or she should vote. In addition, I’ve kept my cards pretty close to my vest. As a church, we were not endorsing either candidate, but simply making the place to vote convenient. The longer we talked, the more comfortable he seemed with the fact that we had not erred and that his perception had been wrong.
Strange isn’t it, how out of sorts people can get over endorsement of a political candidate? I noticed on Facebook last night that someone posted a feeling of jubilation and accomplishment that she had made it through the past several months and not lost any friends over political discussions or disagreements.
The name-calling and the judgmental spirit that some folks use to lambast others who see things differently are unbelievable. It is beyond me! I’ve seen folks nurse hurt feelings that proved to be very slow in mending. I’ve also seen friendships completely severed. From my perspective, the price of admission is too high!
Today as the dust settles around ballot boxes and campaign promises, many of us that fall in the John Q. Public category could potentially have some fence mending to do.
John Ortberg talks about two different kinds of people. There are balcony people and there are basement people. Balcony people cheer you on and offer words of encouragement and support. Basement people, drag you down. He describes them as: “People in your life, who—when you’re not looking—stick a hose in your tank, take a deep breath, and start siphoning the fuel out. They drain you of life”.
Sure, you and I both know whom he is talking about. We can identify them by name. They differ for each of us, but their mark is identical. How does he describe them? “These are the people who are joy challenged, dream squashing, and fault finding—slow leaks in the hot air balloon of your life. We’re called to love them, but we’ve got to guard our hearts. Each of us can be basement people for other folks; there’s a basement person inside all of us. But that’s not God’s plan for human life”.
So which category do I fall in? Which category do you fall in? Are we balcony people who offer encouragement to others or are we basement people focused on negativity and finding fault.
Today is a new day. Whether our candidate(s) won or lost, the die is cast and life marches on. Why not invest the energy needed to be balcony people and be an uplifting source of encouragement to others? I’m choosing to hit the reset button and opt for a fresh start. I prefer to think of this year’s political quagmire (oops, I meant process) as a dream that is now over. During our waking hours, lets pick up the broken pieces and move forward with solidarity and unity. We have too much to lose to do otherwise.
All My Best!