Editor's Note: Mark Schloneger is pastor of North Goshen Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana.
By Mark Schloneger, Special to CNN
It seems frivolous, even foolish.
On Tuesday, as the world turns its attention to who will occupy the most powerful office of the world’s most powerful nation, hundreds of churches will gather across the United States to worship a servant.
As votes are counted to elect a president, thousands of Christians will take the bread and the cup to remember their crucified Lord.
As winners are projected and the electoral map is updated, Christians of many denominations will sing their praises and proclaim their loyalty to Jesus.
It seems ridiculous, even silly.
After all, America is at a crossroads, and we are in the midst of one of the most critical presidential elections of our lifetimes. We know this because people have recited this same tired mantra before every presidential election.
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Our fears, our hopes, our worries and our struggles are the currency that buys our votes. And how do politicians and their supporters acquire this precious currency? They invest billions of dollars to foment fear, inspire hope, create worry and exploit our struggles.
It’s a power play. Some of us are pawns, and some of us are participants. But some of us are choosing a different part.
I initiated the Election Day Communion Campaign out of a concern that Christians in the United States are being shaped more by the tactics and ideologies of political parties than by our identity and unity in Christ. Out of this concern, a simple vision sparked the imaginations of congregations nationwide: the church being the church on Election Day, gathering at the Lord’s Table to remember, to give thanks for, and to proclaim its loyalty to Jesus.
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Gathering for Communion on Election Day seems fitting, for the practice of Communion is an inherently political act. It is both a pledge of allegiance to Jesus and a declaration of independence from all other powers making claims on our bodies, minds and souls.
Far too often, the church has abandoned its first love for the siren song of political parties promising protection, prosperity and peace. Far too many times, the church has ceded the practice of its faith to the spiritual and the private while leaving others to address matters of justice. And far too frequently, the church has attempted to speak truth to power while seeking and relying on that same power for protection.
The bread and the cup are God’s antidotes to our fickle memories. As we eat and drink together, we remember that all things fall under the lordship of Christ. We remember our sin and need to repent.
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We remember that God has lifted up the humble, filled the hungry with good things, and chosen to reveal God’s strength through our weakness.
We remember that the only Christian nation in this world is the church, the holy nation that transcends all human-made walls, boundaries and borders.
As we gather at the table, we remember that the power to redeem, to save, and to transform comes not from atop the seat of power but from within the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
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We will gather for Election Day Communion not because we think that the issues at stake in this election are unimportant or that our votes don’t really matter. No, we will gather for Communion because we think that the issues at stake in all elections are far too important to be relegated to our votes alone.
The Lord’s Supper reminds followers of Jesus to practice the politics of Jesus. To me, practicing the politics of Jesus means working to protect the sanctity of all human life, whether it is found in the womb, in prison, or in countries at war against us.
It means choosing the way of forgiveness and reconciliation rather than vengeance and violence. It means practicing an economy based on generosity and mutual aid.
It means offering care and compassion to suffering people regardless of their immigration status, economic class or religious practice.
It means being good stewards of God’s good creation. And, most of all, it means allowing God’s kingdom to break into the entirety of our lives, from the privacy of our homes to the politics we practice in public.
The bread and the cup keep calling me back to the table inscribed with memory. There, I remember God’s choice for the transfer of power. There, I remember where to go with my fears, my hopes, my worries and my struggles. At the table, with my sisters and brothers, I am in the presence of the Holy.
Though I’m interested in the outcome of the presidential election, I won’t be watching the projected results as they are announced. I’ve made a prior commitment. I intend to honor it.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Schloneger.
This is the first CNN belief blog that is actually true to the Christian faith. The ones I've read previously have always been written by someone with false phony concepts of the Christian faith.
Yep, pretty much sums this site up lately, what with all the false Christians CNN publishes and all the non-believers who come to this site just to cause trouble and spew their hate.
The "christian" faith? Which one?
Another version of Jesus to add to the list!
Let's see…that brings the count to…33,001.
Jesus was an alien
As a non-Christian, I am struck by how the author doesn't mention even once a candidate or "issue" of this election. Not once does he claim to know how his God wants me to vote. His call for "communion" on election day (whatever communion is) seems to me a call to quiet our thoughts, shut out the distractions of the campaign, and to vote the way our hearts, minds and spirits compel us to vote. I agree 100%.
I just learned of this reading the story this morning. I don't usually post comments, but I am shocked by the anger that I am seeing in the comments because small groups of people have decided to meet together in houses of worship to worship, remember the sacrifice that Jesus made, repent of their own sin and recommit themselves to the God. They are doing this instead of watching election results, not instead of voting. Why does this make so many people angry? Why is it that people who hold a sincere faith are so often ridiculed for practicing what they believe when one of the greatest critcisms of the Christian faith is that Christian are hypocrites, saying one thing and doing another?
Because if things get a bit difficult, those same gentle believers will declare holy wars and kill their neighbors for not believing as they do. They will strap bombs to themselves in the name of their lord.
Theists are blind to their own arrogance and stupidity. That's why they are theists in the first place. Cowards.
Plain and simple, whether they can be honest or not, people are angry because we Christians still exist. Thank you Satan, Madeline O'Hare, and the ACLU.
@Norm Canada, Yes they are hypocrites and elitists just like Malcolm R and his posts are cowardice. It takes a lot of guts to stand for nothing, doesn't it :)
Anonymous comment forums like this always bring out people who spew hatred at any available target. Christians are bound to be reading the comments under this article, so here come the haters....
My (unsolicited) advice to you is not to take it personally, but to scroll past the hatred and look for the nuggets of wisdom.
There's a very good reason our founding fathers went to great pains to separate church and state, not the least of which was protection from zealots of every kind who would proclaim to have some mystical right to be right. I'm so tired of folks interjecting 'divine' right, particularly those who promise salvation in return for my personal check.
Baadam... You say you are tired of people interjecting "divine" right... The word divine simply means it comes from God or is inspired by God. And that which cometh from God will always trump that which cometh from man. That's just the way things are. So why are you a hater of things which cometh from God?...
As much as my life has been framed by my faith, I feel I have a duty to all those who died fighting for this country to be as well informed as possible about each candidate before going into the voting booth. Some of the organizations supporting the author's ideas seem to hint at shunting secular media in favor of prayer and reflection. It would seem to me that one of the best ways to glorify God's works is to use the intelligence he gave you and do some serious research regarding each candidate's stance on aiding the poor, supporting single and expecting mothers, stewardship of the environment etc. And that would mean reading from reputable journalistic outlets such as the Wall St. Journal, NY Times, The Economist, etc.
Man cannot subvert God's plan for America. This election, pray, don't vote!
LMAO. Good one. Keep fantasizing about 'G8d's plan for America'. It is fictional, like your ability to have an original thought.
I really hope someone reads this and it plants a seed. Free yourself from the chains of religion. Skepticism and wonder are far more rewarding than mindless belief in dogma that has no proof. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. I was once a committed christian and can’t begin to tell you how much more rewarding it is to free your mind and think for yourself. Think about it. You are a christian most likely because your parents were christians, or you happened to be born in a christian culture. You are no more emphatic about your delusional beliefs than millions of hindus, muslims, or jews. There is no reason to believe gods, an afterlife, or hell exists. They are all man made. Take a chance. Read a book by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens. If your faith is based on sound principles, there is no threat. Otherwise, you just may see the truth and be set free.
I feel sorry for you, Ed. You're headed in the wrong way. Without faith, your life has no higher purpose and that is wrong.
My life has more purpose than one spent in delusion. You are arrogant and blind. I hope for your sake you can see the truth some day.
Braise the Lard!
That would be a lot tastier than eating him raw.
If all of you angry people here can tell me that a higher power didn't have a role in setting the universe in motion, I would love to hear your explanation. Even all of the most gifted cosmologists use the term " dark matter" to explain why the universe is expanding at an increasing rate. Humble yourself and have some humility. It will reward you beyond your wildest imagination, or continue to be prideful and live a selfish lifestyle and continue to batter your soul. There is a better way.
Humble? You who think that the universe was created for you? That the "creator" thinks you are special? We atheists and scientists assert NOTHING about what we DON"T know about the universe, but you theists... You make me ill with the arrogant and elaborate claims YOU make about something you take on "faith". Then you call us "arrogant". Maybe your god can save you from your own stupidity.
What about saying "I don't know"? Even that makes more sense that the stupid explanation of the bible that God created the world from darkness with his magical switch and you have to accept that just because. You believe whatever you want to believe but please, don't try to make sense with dogma.
MalcomR… If that is the case, then why do you atheists and scientists constantly ASSERT that the universe was created from some Big Bang explosion then? You haven't a shred of evidence that was the case. All you have are theories….
And since you believe in your scientists so much, perhaps you should as them this… That is you believe in their theories and you end up in hell, can they come to hell and get you out?… If the answer to that question is No, then why do you believe in them so much then?…
Since you are stupid I will give you the evidence:
1) Cosmic expansion
2) Cosmic microwave background radiation
3) Abundances of hydrogen and helium
4) Size an distribution of variations in the CMB
I know this is too much for your feeble brain to handle, but scientists have OVERWHELMING evidence (that you will never understand) that the universe began in a hot, dense state. I feel sorry for you.
Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the scientific meaning of the word "theory." It does not mean "educated guess" or "conjecture," as you seem to believe. Go look it up – I really don't have the time to keep posting it over and over for the edification of the ignorant. Theories are the bedrock of modern science. All we have for electromagnetism is a theory, yet we seem to be able to make use of it and depend on it every day. And yes, "we don't [yet] know" about some things is a perfectly acceptable answer. Two centuries ago we didn't know anything about radio waves or atoms. We continue to learn, unlike people who accept the musings of a Bronze Age tribal people as eternal truth, people who believed the sun goes around the earth and mental illness is caused by demonic possession.
Ney… It seems the only person spouting dogma around here is you. We believe that God created the earth not because of our own opinion but because Jesus Christ the son of God has told us he did. So who are you to dispute it? For you to try and debase something you know nothing about, now that is pure dogma….
2 Peter 2:12 – But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
UncleBenny… If people like you defended God even half as much as you defend the Devil, then even someone like you could probably be saved…
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand what the word "theory" means. We're not gradeschoolers you know. A "theory" is nothing more than "an opinion formed by someone in the absence of actual truth". It means nothing more than that. And that is all any of the scientists have are just "theories", because they certainly don't have truth…
@MalcolmR- what caused the 4 points you posit as creating the universe?
MalcomR… If that is your so-called "evidence", then it is laughable at best. I don't see mention anywhere in your explanation that any scientist was alive and actually witnessed the Big Bang occur. So how do you know it occurred? Answer: You don't. You can only "theorize" it occurred. Nor have you provided even an ounce of evidence of that fact. All you've provided are "theories". Basically, you guys are looking at the universe as though reading "tea leaves" – and calling what you see "evidence"… Your conclusions are laughable at best…
In contrast, Jesus Christ was actually there with his father and he actually witnessed the earth being formed on Day 1. Imagine that… So who you gonna believe – a group of sinful mortal men who calls themselves scientists, or an eternal God whose word is unimpeachable?…
Thank-you for this refreshing article! The issues that we face here on Earth are important, and should be taken seriously. However, our time here on Earth is short compared to eternity. I would much rather spend my time worshiping & honoring Jesus Christ because he gives me eternal life in Heavan, and that, is more important to me than any election.
This article is spot on. Far too many people I know that proclaim to be Christians ignore 50% or more of the gospel in order to align with man's political parties.
And to all you atheist folks poking fun, you know what he means. Not that literally we are voting Jesus into the White House. If you don't want to believe that's fine, I'm not here making fun of your beliefs. So show me the same courtesy. Thank you.
Once again, I am all for people's personal dedication to their faiths, but religious headlines do not belong on CNN.
It's strange how there are people who say this is a free country, yet when someone speaks publicly about their belief in God, they are persecuted for it. In contrast, all day long and on every news channel, the activities of murderers and rapists and atheists and gays and people who are haters of God can be headline news – yet those same complainers won't say a thing and have no problem with it. But the second anyone says anything positive about God or if they stand up for God, then suddenly the unbelievers have a problem with it. But if this indeed is a free country, then religious articles have just as much right to be published and a place on CNN as non-religious articles. And if the unbelievers and the atheists who read such articles, don't like the content of them, then they are perfectly free to go elsewhere and not read them. Why hang around and complain us about it. No one is forcing you to remain here...
1. There is no god
2. If there is, I hope that he is Zeus
3. The best Bible story is that of Enon...hilarious!
Please show us your proof. We'd love to see it...
Please show us your proof. YOU are the one making the claim that something exists. The burden is on you. If not, then please prove their is NOT a flying spaghetti monster who loves us all. We'd love to see it.
"There is no God", but if there is......... Enough said, do we need to even have a discussion?
Ed... Just as I thought, you don't have any proof. All you have is an opinion. And without proof, your opinion don't mean a thing. That is why you can only evade the question by answering a question with a question...
In America religious freedom has come to mean that certain groups are free to shove their religious beliefs down others throats. Interestingly as they attack they keep claiming they are the victims being attacked. The Republicans have adopted the same tactics. In their eyes liberals and the "liberal press" are setting out to destroy them and "American values" .
It strange, but if you even state your religious belief in public, there will always be someone who will say you are trying to shove it down their throat. When the reality is, all they're really saying is, they just don't want to hear it. But if this is a "free country" as you have stated, then all opinions should be tolerated, and not just the crowing of the unbelievers...
Delusional opinions shouldn't be tolerated. I would treat an adult who tells me Santa is real the same way I would treat and adult who tells me god is real, and that is to call them stupid.
Stating your religion in public is fine. But when you start to legislate that religion (gay marriage, abortion, creationism trying to be passed off as science, ten commandment monuments everywhere they can, priests politicizing their sermons and calling their congregations to action in direct violation of their 501c(3) status, etc. etc.), that's when a problem happens. All these things have been happening for decades, and whenever someone pushes back in accordance with the constitution, the religious cry and whine they are being oppressed. This is the reality of the martyr complex, and the reality of what kind of things are happening.
Hard to believe that Catholics would vote for Obama................a man mentored by communists (Frank Marshall Davis ) and several others.but sheep are sheep. I guess.
It's hard to believe Catholics would vote for a Heretic cultist. They take this matter very seriously unlike Evangelical Christians who are ignorant on the subject as they are about so many other things.
Harrison.............I guess they are picking the lesser of two evils.
I think they will wise up in the voting booth. Four years goes by fast but eternal hellfires of Damnation is a very , very long time.
tbt: your blasphemy will be punished with the denial of FSM's noodly appendage!
Repent or suffer the consequences!
Your bad. The FSM is not into retribution of any kind and you know it, HE just feels sorry for those that do not believe in HIM, although He does try to keep as far away as possible from Born Agains, a very dangerous group.
There are a lot of hateful people in this world. If you have nothing better to do than mock and deride others for their beliefs, then you lead a very sad life.
You call out others for "deriding" your believes and then tell others they have a sad life? The problem is Christianity doesn't practice what they preach, hence the blow-back you see.
As I look at the rubles and thrash of material things left behind by Hurricane Sandy, I see the greatest teachings of Christ come alive in the basic necessity of human-kind, which is "Love thy neighbor as you love thy self." I see neighbors and strangers helping each other. I see compassionate spirits at work as they rescue others.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.