I realized it has been nearly two weeks since I last blogged. I guess it could be because I have been under the weather a little lately. It could also be because our church is getting ready for its annual meeting. I think the real reason is that most of my spare time has been spent reading the Bible. I understand that most people might not think that unusual for a pastor - and in a sense it isn't. But this is different. I - along with many others from our church - are engaged in attempting to read through the Bible in 90 Days. That means about 12 pages per day of names like Shamgar, Othniel, Eliezer, Ophrah (no not Oprah although I am told that is actually what her parents intended to name her and simply left out a letter). Along with the strange names are the long lists of begats, the strange prohibitions of the Old Testament and the bloody sacrifices and barbaric battles. It is really eye opening and as I re-read these passages, I am aware of all sorts of details and images that I have glossed over in the past.
Have you ever noticed how God has chosen to use and to bless the most unlikely, imperfect people in accomplishing salvation's plan. That gives me great hope.
Early this week I was reminded of the plea of God's people "to have a king, just like the surrounding nations". Dissatisfied with the way God has delivered them and taken care of them from their journies in the wilderness to their conquest of Caanan, the Israelites seem to think that a human, political form of government can do a better job than God has done working through his prophet's and judges.
Some things never change do they? I find myself being caught up in the excitement, hope and optimism of a newly elected President. And in fact, I do believe that Barack Obama's election and inauguration as 44th President of the US is a milestone of epic proportions. I vascillated between tears and uncontrollable grinning then on to somber prayer for protection, wisdom and power for him. I was emotionally drained by the end of the day. I don't know how he and his wife and daughters made it through the long day of prayer services, ceremonies, parades and balls.
I know many are skeptical - and perhaps even bitter or angry. But what an incredible thing it is that an African American - the son of an African immigrant - could become President the very same week we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy of freedom, justice and racial equality. And what an incredible gift it is to live in a country where the transition of power - even after a hotly contested political campaign - can take place peacefully. In fact, signs of new unity, hope and racial equality were as evident as the many-colored faces in the throngs of peopls who were present in Washington to witness this moving, historic occasion.
Perhaps the fact that President Obama seemingly sprang so quickly from relative obscurity is a sign of God's unique appointment and role for him in our world at this time. Like Esther, perhaps God has put him in this place "for such a time as this." In re-reading the Bible, so many of those that God chose to lead the people were not the people that the pundits and experts would have picked.
Having said all that about our new president and these historic moments, I need to bring myself back down to the reality that our country and this our elected officials are just part of an earthly and temporal kingdom - a kingdom that exists only because of God's grace. God's eternal plans and kingdom far exceed and out pace even the most thrilling, hopeful time in earthly history. In the end, we need to remember that we are citizens of Christ's kingdom first and of this earthly one secondarily. Ultimately our hope has to rest in Jesus' triumph and not ina political candidate or party platform.
So, I am jazzed about our new President. I believe better things are in store. I pray that he will be used of God not just to bring help to an ailing economy, but to restore our great country to the place of honor, respect, freedom, justice and equality that it has been in the past and can continue to be. But you know what, that can only happen when we as followers of the King of King live lives that reflect the values of an eternal kingdom.
I've rambled enough. My cup is empty. It is time to have another cup of coffee and finish getting ready for my Bible Study tonight at the Mint.