I was minding my own business. One of my Monday habits is to create a document with the Lectionary Texts for the upcoming Sunday. I include the broader passage from which each text comes. And, for New Testament texts I include the Greek text with apologies to my Hebrew professors from Seminary.
Chris Erdman, in his little book Countdown to Sunday, suggests creating a document with wide margins in which to record thoughts and reflections on the texts throughout the week. Ever since I read the rationale for his weekly habits, I have used a few for myself. You may teach an old dog new tricks.
Living with the texts – Erdman’s recommendation – for the week is akin to Joe Thorn’s admonition to preach to myself. My notes are not as attractive as Joe’s. Maybe it is the lack of squares on my page. Or, it could be the beard.
Then it happened. Marty dropped me an email pointing to a recent report published by Lifeway Research. It seems that in some parts Sunday, October 7, is up for grabs. Talk about swing states, how about swing days? The Alliance Defending Freedom has designated Sunday, “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” Why not, “Pastoral Rebellion Sunday?” We pastors need new PR. Nothing sends the proper signal to a congregation like a little pastoral rebellion. Youth, you think there are some crazy laws on the books? Watch this!
I am now perplexed. After preaching for more than 30 years it seems I have been endorsing the wrong candidate. If President Obama can campaign for office in at least 3 out of his first 4 years as President, then as a pastor, I guess, I could deviate from the Sacred Text at least one Sunday to tell my congregation for whom I will vote – and for whom I expect them to vote. Though, they do not know our congregation.
Lifeway discovered that more Protestant pastors think I should stick with the Sacred Text and, I presume, Jesus. Good for whomever them is. Eighty-seven percent believe a pastor should not endorse a political candidate for public office. Good thing. If I had to choose this election cycle, it has been clear for those reading here, I would not have an endorsement. I still think we are choosing the lesser of two evils. I don’t like evil.
The question, “Who should a pastor endorse,” gives the impression he may equivocate from the Sacred Text. I realize that in the hands of any one the text means what he or she wants it to mean. Quickly the right points the finger at the left. “Those liberals are at it again.” If they would just “preach Jesus.” But, in this instance, those who will participate in these pulpit games will be conservatives who decide to endorse a candidate rather than endorse Jesus. No, we cannot conflate the two. Jesus is not running for President.