Thursday, June 30, 2005

PRAYERS WITHOUT BORDERS

To: bevchoatedowdy@yahoo.com
From: Chris and Lauren
Date: Monday, June 27, 2005

“I just wanted you to know that we went to church with the president yesterday morning.”

My son Chris and his wife Lauren attended worship at St.John’s Episcopal Church Sunday morning. They said they sat about five feet away from the President. They experienced a strong sense of his warmth, charm, humility, and sincerity.

Their sense of this confirms everything I have ever heard of and seen of President George W. Bush. I see him as sincere about his faith and humble in the realization of his place before God. I understand him to be one who comes before God to seek wisdom and strength.

The fact that I challenge his administration’s policies doesn’t fly in the face of that perception.

Thinking of the president at worship reminds me of how sad it is that there is such a climate of animosity in politics today. It’s a bit of irony of to me that at the point when Bible believing Christians have gained a good bit of influence, there is a marked abundance of mean spiritedness.


I am not sure how you analyze it, but it seems to me that the mean spiritedness has not come as a single handed swing from the secular liberals. If I didn’t spend a tremendous amount of time with church going political conservatives, I might be able to blame it on the secular types, but the tone of many among the religious right towards their political opposition often drips with mocking and the assumption of moral and intellectual superiority. I think my Bible believing church going friends and the media, to which they exclusively attend, contribute greatly to the climate of animosity.

Sadly, some folks who regularly pray publicly for President Bush never did so for President Clinton. When President Bush was elected, at one assembly a fellow got up and said, “Thank God we have a Christian president.”

Another fellow in the same assembly turned to his wife and said, “So what is Clinton? Buddhist?”

Whatever you may think about Clinton’s politics and personal life, he privately and publicly acknowledges his reliance on the grace of God.
[1] I’m not suggesting you vote him or for his wife. I am suggesting that it’s a little scary to hear condemnations and recriminations of any believer asking for forgiveness.

During the Clinton adminstration, a good friend of mine was undergoing tests for a serious illness. She was told she would probably have to wait four days for the results.I remember remarking "I bet Hilary Clinton wouldn't have to wait for four days."


My friend's minister said, "Well if it was Hilary Clinton, I wouldn't care."

When it comes to political ideology, there are very significant debates to be had, but drawing the borders of the kingdom around views about public policy and politicians may show us to be more the objects of the marketing of political consultants than the disciples of Jesus.

He sees way beyond our ideological, theological, political, ethnic, and national borders and loves the whole world.


This leads me to one of my passionate complaints about church assemblies of late. Since the run up to the invasion of Iraq I have sat in worship assembly after worship assembly made up of fairly conservative folks. Conservative in politics. Conservative in biblical interpretation. One glaring inconsistency to me centers around what seems to be an implicit interpretation of I Timothy.

In these assemblies of worship, the women are excluded from public speaking. This is based on the leaders’ interpretation of the somewhat complicated advice on women in the second chapter of I Timothy. Yet, when I hear prayers led--by the men only--they ignore a direct, simple to interpret, command coming from the first part of the same chapter.

“First of all, then I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all.”

For years now I have heard prayers for our president and for our troops and for our success in war. I am trying to think of a public prayer I have heard in which we prayed for everyone--for all of those in high positions. I rarely, if never, hear a prayer for peace. I rarely, if ever, hear a prayer for our enemies or for the peoples or soldiers of the other lands embroiled in conflict.

Praying for our troops, our president, and our national security reflects our concerns and our anxieties, but I don’t
think that limiting our prayers to these reflects the will of God.

He sees way beyond our ideological, theological, political, ethnic, and national borders and loves the whole world.

We could think of it as living below our privilege. We could be praying for all of the leaders of all nations. We could be praying for all humankind everywhere.

How lonely for our president to go to the table of leaders all covered in prayer meeting folks for whom we have NOT prayed.

What a blessing that we can join together to pray for peace for all nations.

When one looks down on earth from the reaches of space, the multi-colored political maps we usually visualize become the artificial. What’s real is the wide expanse of earth with no political lines.

How precious that Chris and Lauren got to worship with President George W. Bush. How precious for them to gain a sense of his warmth, charm, humility, and sincerity.

We can love and appreciate our president. We can love and appreciate our nation. We can ask for safety and security for our loved ones in uniform. We can debate our ideologies. But we must remember His transcendency.
God loves all men everywhere. It's time for us to utter prayers without borders.
[1]
* McDonald, Gordon, ”Body Politics, Amid political tensions, when is a pastor to speak out and when to refrain?” Leadership, Fall 2004 p. 107-108



20 comments:

Anonymous said...

this is lela...and all i have to say is I was practically screaming AMEN at my computer screen. thank you thank you thank you for putting into words to well what I have been feeling for a long time.

Anne-Geri' said...

AAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bev!!! You rock. That is the most powerful statement I have heard lately. It's not political, it's not agenda-based, it's just plain truth. And I know, I just know, George W. Bush would say, "YES! PLEASE!! That would be very nice, thank you! Please pray for the people I work with, work for, work about . . . please cover them so that we can all make wise decisions about our country together. Thank you!" I have no doubt at all. Wish I knew him just so I could send him this post.

Instead I'll just forward it to lots and lots of people - and maybe eventually he'll get to read it too.

Thanks again, Bev!!!

Johnny C. said...

Great post Mrs. Dowdy!

I agree with you on all fronts.

It's crazy you all are moving.

I miss Trevor already!

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

Johnny
Write me an email at bevchoatedowdy@yahoo.com.

I want to stay in touch.

I think I want to put on a little indie concert featuring "Kite Fighting" to raise a little money for World Vision before I leave.

We'll be around til August 1, so come see us.
Bev

JAW said...

I love this post, and love its' tone.

I could learn a lot from you on how to approach these issues. :)

See you in a week!

Anonymous said...

Bev, I'm old but not to old to see the importance of your statement that politics and politicians are only human and need the help of Christian people to stay on top of issues that affect everyday life in America. Prayer and caring where our country is going in the future should be in the thoughts of every American. God bless America! God lead our political leaders as they have never been led before.
Sincerely,
L in East Texas

Jeff said...

I tend to be politically conservative, and am a "fan" of our President. Your words hit me like a 2x4 to the forehead.

Thanks. I needed that.

Jeff

Anonymous said...

Thanks!!! Well said!!

Quiara said...

And just think: Memphis gets you! ^_^

Amen and amen. And can I take you out for coffee when you get here?

Steve said...

Very well said.

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

Jeff
that must be the 2X4 that keeps getting in my eye
Thanks for you comment.
Bev

Q
Coffee is a must.
Lord willing,we will be there the first week of August.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bev,
Great post and it's right on. After spending a week in Maine on vacation, Ben and I visited Sturbridge Village in central Massachusetts- a living history museum dedicated to the pre-industrial revolution period of New England.

We enjoyed sharing thoughts with the "church organist" as he explained the political and religious issues facing the residents of New England in the 1830's as they grappled with the increasing diversity of religious expression as the number of Christian denominations flourished. Apparently, Massachusetts was the last state to proclaim a clear separation of church and state, having until the 1830's, routinely allowed a percentage of town taxes to be given to local church congregation. The conversation was so familiar, I had to wonder when we will finally "get it" when it comes to true religious freedom in the US.

As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July, it is appropriate to consider the wisdom of our founders that they created a government where religious expression was free from government control or influence. May we as Christians, exercise our freedom in a way that respects the same of all citizens, regardless of their faith traditions. And may we invest our spiritual energies seeking our power and strength from the throne of God, rather than from the halls of political power.

Anthony Parker said...

Found your post via Matt Elliott's link. This is very good. My attitude toward President Clinton, and a lot of other people, challenged by Philip Yancy's What's So Amazing About Grace. We who love to sing about grace don't always like to show it toward those whose sins we consider to be worse than our own. But what is grace for, anyway?

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

Anthony
I appreciate your comment and am so intrigued by your family's mission work in Togo. I will pray for everyone to have safe travel back to the states. I am wondering where you are from in Alabama.
Bev

Anonymous said...

Hi Bev,
You may find this conversation of interest.
Friday 7/1/2005
Hour One
The Supreme Court ruled on two cases this week regarding the Ten Commandments. Some constitutional scholars, including our guest NOAH FELDMAN, think these decisions made the concept of separation of church and state more confusing. FELDMAN is a professor of law at New York University who specializes in the relationship between religion and political authority. His new book, "Divided by God," will be published next week. Listen to this show via Real Audio Friday 7/1/2005
Hour One
The Supreme Court ruled on two cases this week regarding the Ten Commandments. Some constitutional scholars, including our guest NOAH FELDMAN, think these decisions made the concept of separation of church and state more confusing. FELDMAN is a professor of law at New York University who specializes in the relationship between religion and political authority. His new book, "Divided by God," will be published next week. Listen to this show via Real Audio

http://www.whyy.org/91FM/radiotimes.html

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

To my favorite TarHeel,Linda

Power and strength from the throne of God over the halls of political power. I really appreciate that statement. As a matter of fact, I appreciate every word you said.

Great to hear from you.
Bev

Julia Osteen said...

Bev,
Again you've given us much to think about. You have a way of bringing up topics that are very convicting. One of the hardest things to do, I think, is to pray for your enemies. I, too, have heard many prayers for our government, soldiers and leaders. These prayers are needed. But where are the prayers for the Iraqi people or the insurgents? Thanks for your poignant post.

Love, Julia

Anonymous said...

...I am a humble guest, following Matt E.'s link to this article. I am so glad I did. Thanks for saying tenderly, what I too often kavetsch about bitterly among friends. I pray, especially in light of this patriotic holiday we have just celebrated, that we don't value the freedom and security of the good 'ol USA above the true Freedom and live without Fear that the Gospel offers people of EVERY tribe, tongue and nation.

-so what's this "leaving" talk? going to Brno for good?? :-)

-katie w.

Steven said...

Thank you, Bev. This needed to be said. I would like to hear it from the pulpit. I hope you enjoy working with my wife this coming year.

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