This has been quite a week for both home nations of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Two events of political and pastoral significance riveted us - the death of Osama Bin Laden and the federal election in Canada.
Monday morning I woke up expecting to vote and take my day off doing some long-delayed wood-trimming in my basement workshop. Before I sat down with my first cup of coffee for devotions, CBC News told me that US Special Forces troops had raided a compound in Pakistan and killed Osama Bin Laden. I heard a recording of President Obama’s briefly reporting the event.
Later that morning Rose and I voted at a local Mennonite church. The location of the polling place struck me as remarkably ironic. For several centuries Mennonites had refused any and all participation in political processes. NOT voting or running for office and conscientiously objecting to military service took the highest profiles. Yet here we were, voting in the holy place (well, it was only the gymnasium) of one-time moral opponents of organized government. I have on my list the note to call the pastor and simply ask him what has changed. (Of course, there are Mennonites, Lutherans, Christian Reformed folks and many other Christians now in all levels of government in both the US and Canada, but I want to look at how this happened locally.)
By late Monday evening, it was clear that an historic election had taken place in Canada. After heading two minority governments since 2006, the Conservatives won a strong majority. The Liberals lost two-thirds of their seats. Astonishingly the New Democratic Party won more than 100 seats, thus becoming for the first time in Canadian politics “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.” Watching Parliament will be very interesting. Watching what will happen to the Liberal Party may be painful.
But here we have two signal events: The violent, probably justifiable political assassination—or battlefield death, depending on how one looks at it—of Osama Bin Laden was as tastefully acknowledged as anti-terrorism can be a few days later. President Obama visited Ground Zero for a solemn memorial to the more than 3000 victims of the Bin Laden-planned attack on the World Trade Center. And in Canada experienced a peaceful, yet seismic change in the political landscape.
How do we as pastors respond pastorally to both events? Of course we are all affected by them. Many of us know families whose loved ones died in the terror of September 11 or who tended the injured, risking their lives at the Pentagon or in New York City. Many of us know Members of the Canadian Parliament who are sisters and brothers. Some were elected for the first time. Some were re-elected. Others were defeated.
Will you pray about these two events in the prayers of the people tomorrow? Have you regularly prayed—personally and publically—about events and decisions that led to these events them in the last years?
God places pastors and leaders in positions of responsibility to discern, to judge, to care, to hurt, to thank. Tomorrow’s congregational prayer is one I’ve been praying about all week. I pray that’s enough to do God’s will tomorrow in worship.