Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Comments on Our Various Vocations in the Public World

Three seemingly unrelated comments:
President Obama is trying to take what may seem like a cautious public stance concerning the contested elections in Iran. Actually it's a strong, positive stance about America's role in the world. We are interdependent partners, not dictators of "democracy." (Of course, it's pragmatic, too, lest we be seen to be instigating the protests which would harm, not help the protestors)

Newt Gringrich at a recent Republican Party fundraiser (quoting Obama)warned against what he thought abhorant, that we might think of ourselves as citizens of the world. We are! We need to be. And, as Christians, because we have a Creating, Liberating and Empowering God, we need to see each of God's created ones in that light. Ours is not a "gospel" of "freeing the world" for our kind of democracy.

The President of France and our president had an interesting exchange with Obama when he was in France a couple of weeks ago. (There are so many other things to comment on in regard to his Obama's speech to the Muslim world, the 60th anniversary of D-Day, etc, but for now I comment on this small one.) France is a secular democracy; therefore government workers cannot wear apparel that marks their religion. (The controversy is what Muslim girls can wear in school) The U.S. is not a secular democracy. People of all faith traditions are encouraged to be influenced by their faith and to carry those ideas into the public world. We are called to help create a safe environment for us to be different together.

Well, perhaps the connection among those three comments above is quite apparent.
So let me add a couple more:
The shooting of a man in Wichita while he ushered at his Lutheran Church was tragic. He was carrying out his ministry in daily life...trusting women to know their--sometimes life-threatening--needs. How do we support people in our congregations as they carry out their ministries in daily life, carry their faith into the public world? In this one country, within a given congregation,in the world, we may have quite different viewpoints and vocations that carry us in very different directions. But we have a calling in the public world.

And we all have the responsibility to protect one another, and in the case of the killing in Wichita, to address the terrorist threat within our country in regard to anti-abortion advocates who turn violent.

I just returned from my ELCA Southeastern Iowa synod assembly. We dealt with many issues, including the issues of sexuality which will come before the churchwide assembly in August. People in my synod think, and think carefully. They had studied the issues and they voted--favorably toward the Social Statement. It was not a unanimous vote, but there was such a sense of wise calm. It was a trustworthy environment for us to be different together. (We also needed to talk about our churchwide vote and the recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriages.)

All of us are called to have conversation together about our vocation in the public world, whether within the church, locally and globally, and as citizens locally and nationally and globally.

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