Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen

October 24, 2018

Dear Friends,

Election season is upon us, and I do make an effort to be informed on the issues and candidates. But it is difficult to keep up, and the volume and venom of the campaign ads from both sides cause me to want to quit participating or listening. Am I alone?

What keeps me going is the conviction that my Christian Faith requires me to work for the common good. And the way our country has determined that decisions shall be made is through our political process. So, while I do not believe that the political process should be confused with or called a Christian process, I definitely do live and vote my faith.

The Reformed Theological tradition has a deep respect for the separation of church and state. Our Book of Order says, “We do not even wish to see any religious constitution aided by the civil power, further than may be necessary for protection and security, and at the same time, be equal and common to all others.” [Book of Order; F-3.0101b] We learned, in the Protestant Reformation, how very dangerous it is to have the church and state combined. Protestant Pastors led the resistance when Adolph Hitler moved to have the churches in Germany swear allegiance to the state. They wrote The Barmen Declaration to define the duties of the state and of the church and to warn against the dangers of combining or confusing the two.

So, there are two dangers we must avoid. First, we are not to confuse our nation or our political party with our faith or with the Christian Church. Second, we are not to assume that there should be no connection or relationship. From the time of the Biblical Prophets, God has sent faithful men and women to speak truth to power and to hold leaders accountable to the Biblical standard and to humility. We must continue to be engaged in the process of civic debate. Only, we ought not to be the ones shouting and slinging mud!

Rae Hunter showed me a small book of prayers that has been important to her, Bless This Mess & Other Prayers by Jo Carr and Imogene Sorley, which was written in 1969! In it I found this little gem:

Dear Lord, I come confessing. To live dangerously in these days is unavoidable.
But to live ignorantly is inexcusable. And I live ignorantly.
I voted today. Civic duty, and all that. But for the most part I voted ignorantly.
I just didn’t bother to study the issues. And those issues will affect me, affect all of us.
I don’t plan my days. They just come. I don’t plan my tomorrows either.
Mine is a “live one day at a time” casualness that constitutes living ignorantly.
And I guess it is inexcusable to spend more real thought on choosing a dress pattern
Than on the Eternals. Lord God, I would live intentionally.
Thought-fully. Not by default, but by design. Amen.

I hope to see you in worship!

Remember that this Sunday is Stewardship Dedication. Please prepare thoughtfully and prayerfully.

Ellen Fowler Skidmore

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