Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas at the Legislature

It’s an exciting day at the Legislature today.  For the past few weeks, staff has been busy decorating the inside of the building and changing the over 3300 lights on the outside of the building to holiday colors.  There’s a large tree that is set up and decorated inside the main rotunda of the building. (I’ll stop by later to see if Santa is leaning to the right or left this year…)  The Speaker and Premier will officially light the building and the Provincial Christmas tree.  It’s always a fun event!

When most of us think about Christmas, we default to baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, shepherds and angel choirs.  Lately I’ve been pondering the connection between Jesus and kings in the Christmas story.  The contrasts are amazing.  Herod was governor of Judea at that time.  For the most part he was nothing more than a Roman puppet.  His job was to ensure that the Jews were properly controlled and as much as possible absorbed into the Roman Empire.  Herod was oblivious to the coming of Jesus.  Jesus was born a mere 8kms from Herod’s palace and Herod missed it completely.  Sometimes leaders aren’t very different from you and me.  We miss what God is doing right in front of us.

Almost 2 years after the fact, magi or wisemen or kings appeared at Herod’s court seeking to honor the King of the Jews.   Not only were they watching the skies for a sign that something was happening, they were also curious enough that they followed the sign to Herod’s palace and ultimately to Bethlehem where they found Jesus.  Their journey cost them time, energy and comfort.  They brought expensive gifts with them to honor the king.  They were seekers, but more than just seekers.  They were men on a mission, intent on meeting and honoring the King of the Jews.

Most people are of the opinion that political leaders aren’t really interested in seeking out Jesus.  After 5 years of ministry to political leaders, I’ve discovered that there are far more who have hearts like the Magi than there are those who have hearts like Herod.  Some are very open about their curiosity and pursuit.  Some are more discreet.  What matters is that they are searching and that by God’s grace, we are there and able to support and assist in their pursuit. 

One of our highlights from this year was to hear about an MLA who had decided all on his own to read the bible for the first time in his life.  He began his journey to find Jesus on Jan 1st.  I don’t know why or what sparked his interest.  It’s my privilege to support and encourage him on the journey.  I had a visit with him in September.  When I saw him, he started the conversation with ‘I know you are going to ask so let me just save you the time, I’ve got 21 pages to go!’  We chatted briefly about what he thought about what he read.  There are more conversations to follow.  I’ve been praying that like the Magi of old, he will find the King this Christmas.


Monday, November 05, 2012

Taking Our Place

In less than 36 hours the race for the Presidency of the United States should be over.  I say 'should' just in case we see a repeat of 'hanging chads' and faulty voting machines like we did during the Bush vs. Gore race. 

Election campaigns provide something of a pause for reflection on the state of nation. We evaluate the state of the economy, the responsiveness of the current administration to the needs of the citizens and we make choices based on past performance and future vision.  In the case of America, there's been no shortage of finger pointing as to who is to blame for high unemployment, a sputtering economy, rising debt and a general decline in the nation. To date, neither contender for the Presidency has been willing to say, 'that was our fault or 'my fault' or even 'I was wrong about that...'.  It would be refreshing, inspiring and perhaps even enough to ensure election, but don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen. 

There's a familiar passage in 2 Chr. 7:14 that challenges me.  The verse is God's response to Solomon's prayer in 2 Chr. 6 where Solomon humbly asks God to respond to the prayers of His people when the nation experiences hardship, adversity and judgement for its willful disobedience.  God's response to Solomon's request is 'I have heard your prayers and when difficulty comes upon the nation, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.' (NIV)

The conversation between God and Solomon fascinates me because it suggests that there is a connection between what happens to a nation and what the real remedy might be.  Could it be that more than a stimulus or recovery plan, what the nation really needs is for the church to take it's place as priest and intercessor on behalf of the nation and begin to repent for our own sins and for those of the country? 

Nations lose their moral compass and forsake their moral foundations when the church abdicates its role as priest and intercessor on behalf of the nation.  I understand that we don't live in a theocracy and this is not a call for the church to 'take over' or dictate it's values to the rest of society. It is a call to humbly and intentionally recognize that we have a responsibility to those who govern over us and to those who live around us, to pray for God's blessing upon them.

Some will be hostile to our faith, others will be dismissive of our prayers.  That does not negate their effectiveness. Paul wrote to the early church to pray for those who ruled over them so that they would live peaceable lives.  It's worthwhile noting that the ruler of the day was Nero who was dipping Christians in tar and using them as torches to light Rome at night. 

More than an endorsement from a church leader or an unspoken political relationship with a particular ideology, political leaders need a promise from us that we will take our place and intentionally and purposefully pray for them!

In the News!

I got an email from a friend last Thursday congratulating me for being on the front cover of a regional newspaper.  I'd heard about the paper, but had no idea how or why I might be the cover story.  The interview took place just after our annual MLA prayer breakfast.  The reporter did it for another magazine and her story got picked up by 'The Light' magazine.  The Light is based out of Langley, BC. 

Here's the link to the article.  I hope you enjoy it!