Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Letter to the President Elect

I received this request in my email yesterday from a features reporter:

"I’m working on a story that will run Nov. 8 on how local faith leaders would minister to the next president, whoever he may be, should he choose your parish to worship for a Sunday or weekly before Inaugural Day. It could be a letter to the president or just a thought or advice on healing divisions. If you are interested, I’m looking for a written paragraph or two at the most, and will run them as written.

"I’m trying to collect these before the votes are tallied because I truly want this to be a story more about what the president inherits and how he/she might best with it."

As I wrote my response, I realized there were several ways to respond here. I could have outlined a strategy for regular meetings and helping him to think through the implications of his new position in spiritual terms. Unfortunately for him, I have been reading Jesus for President with my congregation (If you have not read it, you need to.), so I am not very inclined to think in terms of fixing the political system as much as I am thinking about how we are called to live within a different landscape, the Kingdom of God. Hence, I gave the following response, which was simply my challenge to try to live as much as a Christian as is humanly possible in that job. Hey, if you get just one chance to speak to the President, say what is on your mind!

"Mr. President: Congratulations. Please remember that Jesus, the author of the faith you confess, never held public office and rejected the temptation to rule. In order to do your job well, you will have to worry less about maintaining power or getting reelected and more about caring for the people of this nation and the rest of the world. Show all of us that that the true America recognizes that people are more important than empires, food is more important than bombs, and housing and medical care are more important than our reputation.

"Remember that Jesus rejected violence, even to save his own life; reject torture, reject revenge, and reject nation building, all of which seek to serve our own selfish ends. Remember that God gave the world to us with the instruction that we be its stewards; be a leader for a new way of relating to the land we have so severely abused. Remember that Jesus spent most of his time with the poor, the outcasts, the despised, the criminals. the workers, the foreigners in the land, and even the people of other faiths; befriend and welcome those who are considered the ‘others’ in our world. Finally, no Christian acts in isolation; find a way to maintain your life in a faith community."

So what would you have written?

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