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.
Always amazed that many, certainly not all, of the folks who preach tolerance, simply have none for people of faith. I was raised to believe that we should respect someone's gender, race, orientation and spirituality or religious beliefs. For many folks, these are core elements to who they are. Not sure what void you have in your own life that you need to belittle other folks. Slow your roll haters. Wasted energy.
You've got it backwards Dude, it's not the nonbelievers who have historically burned people at the stake for being heretics.
If the religious right kept their beliefs private, this conversation would not be happening. The bible says something like, do not be like the hypocrites, praying loudly in public. I would go so far as to say most christians have missed the major points expressed by jesus, and for some reason believe they have been appointed spiritual sheriffs to the world.
I was raised in such a way also. When I learned that many religious beliefs involved the denial of rights based on bigotry or even extermination of other races or of non-believers, I realized that tolerating religious beliefs on principal is a dangerous path and a slippery slope.
Love the believer. Hate the belief.
Al S… People throw the word "hate" around as though it is universally a bad thing to hate. Not necessarily. It depends on what you are hating. For example, there is nothing wrong with you hating evil and hating the devil. When people commit sin and is committing evil acts, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you hating the evil things that they do. There is no crime in you hating that. In contrast, when you hate those things which are good and is a despiser of those who do good, then you are an evil person. And it can send your soul to the lake…
For some examples of when hating is good, Jesus himself said…
1 John 2:15 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (meaning it's a good thing to hate the world)...
Luke 14:26 – If any man come to me, and HATE not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
John 12:25 – He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that HATETH his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
Luke 16:13 – No servant can serve two masters: for either he will HATE the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
For some examples of when hating is bad…
2 Timothy 3:1 – This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection…DESPISERS of those that are good… (referring to unbelievers who despise and hate those who follow the word of God)…
Romans 1:30 – Backbiters, HATERS of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, etc (these are people who shall be cast into the lake)…
Steve… We could also say the very same thing… that if the endless parade of unbelievers and sinners of the would keep their unholy opinions and unholy beliefs private, then this wouldn't be happening either. Instead, and especially gays and lesbians, they want to scream their unholy opinions and unholy activities from the mountaintops and want all things concerning them to be headline news in every major newspaper around the world. And even when that is done, that still is not good enough for them. They want to have massive televised parades in every major city and to stand on every street corner of that city hugging and kissing in broad daylight and in plain open view, hoping that all adults, children, and the world at large will see them. Yet, these same people have the nerve to complain and to grumble when a single politician stands up for God. Shame…
Opp, your views on holy and unholy are simply irrelevant. The US isn't a theocracy and regardless of your views on what's moral and what isn't, what really matters is law. The Bible can be your law if you wish, but you don't get to use it to deprive others of the rights we enjoy in this country.
Why are you so ignorant?
Wow. Thank you for this article. It was a good reminder for me and it's nice to know others out there care so much and refuse to be polarized by politics. I agree with a lot of these comments in the sense that I am so fantastically exhausted by the hypocritical lying blowhards in the sheeps cloth of true worship. THAT is the biggest problem in the world today I think. Every giant problem goes back to it. This is why people are so over religion. What's worse than a polarizing self righteous hypocrite? I am a very religious person but in my religion we are taught... Wait, no: Commanded by the bible to respect others opinions and decisions. Judgement has to belong to God (whose name is Jehovah). Thank you for the article and the comments everyone.
The Big O, with his hatred of Bibles N guns, morphs those feelings toward the fly-over people. The lefty coastie people then come cryin' for help when they get in trouble. We be all in this together, hahaha.
A vote on election day is a vote for more of the same. The smart people just wait it out and watch to see who the military picks. Viva la 'Nana 'Public.
If your loyalty is to Jesus, write him in!
Good Article. So hard for me to not let my political views rule over me. The country is going swing left and right for the forseeable future, and this article reminds me that my faith doesn't have to. Republicans and Democrats we are all brothers of another mother.
Not any more. W changed all that big time.
first – the majority of the country is squarely in the middle. only the vocal minority are on the extremes.
the media reports it as polarizing because it sells. all our friends, conservative, liberal, christian, atheist, muslim, gay, straight all still sit at the same table together, play on the same teams, work at the same goals.
why would you vote for a 2nd baseman ?
It is sad to see that the cornerstone to women's rights these days is the right of the mother to destroy life.....wow you've come a long way baby!
Says the religious person who's god demanded genocide in his holy book.
You have no cornerstone for rights of women at all, let alone anyone else who believes differently. Hypocrite.
I don't need god to tell me that abortion is murder.
I don't think the baby will have come very far.
I would rather have a dead baby than a kid running around committing crime because he was not raised in a house which could adequately take care of him.
Let women decide on their own.
JC, you're male, aren't you? It shows. You don't have a clue as to what you're talking about. Women's rights are no different than men's rights. No man can be forced to do anything to his body by government decree. Nobody can make you donate an organ to someone even if not doing so will result in death. That's because all people have a right to bodily integrity, the right to privacy, the right to be secure in oneself. You demand that women become secondary to a fetus the moment they become pregnant. That isn't going to happen. Even if Romney is elected.
JC, if you dislike abortion, then don't ever, ever have one or impregnate someone who might decide to have one. By the way, did you know that 70% of all abortions are performed on Christians?
JC no doubt, you are a man. The day you can get pregnant, and have a watermelon come out of your @ss, then you can talk!
In your retarded mind is a vasectomy a form of contraception? 666
Then turn off your faucet, turn off your heat and don't take what the government gives you, since you don't care. Stop being a hypocrite taking the goods from atheists while pretending they came from god. I challenge all you pastors to walk away from your jobs, family etc. that's what Christ said. So do it, tell your folks to stop working and follow Christ,like in the bible.
You don't believe in Christ anymore than I do, why? We rely upon the same services, during Sandy did any of your parishoners use FEMA? You better not HYPOCRITE.
I'm sorry but religion should be left out of politics. I realize a large part of the world is religious but mixing it with politics just confuses people even more.
Wow! Not sure who scares me most. Fanatical muslim extremists or religious american christian lunatics! Me, I beleive in Big Bird!!!!
I believe in ... ME !!!! ... and YOU !!!!
Inevitably, these comments are filled with hate and derision toward Jesus of Nazareth and his followers.
But what, exactly, about Jesus infuriates people so? That he told us to love one another? That he was in favor of peace? That he looked out for the poor and sick? Are these ideas worthy of derision?
In the hundreds of comments I have read to religion articles on CNN, I have read none that offer a better way of life than following Jesus, both as teacher and as Savior. If you're so wise, let's hear your better way of life.
Mr. Romney already enjoys a commanding lead among white evangelical Protestant voters — 76 percent to 17 percent for President Obama, according to a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey released on Monday,
– White Evangelicals set themselves up as political enemies then hide behind Jesus' cross.
puzzled – unfortunately, it isn't as simple as following jesus. there are literally as many interpretations of scripture as there are readers and they all believe they should go about doing something about it in different ways.
if the religious simply believe and do not attempt to impose their beliefs on the population at large by codifying their beliefs into civil law, attempting to insinuate their beliefs into public school, or denying the rights of their fellows there would never be a problem.
The get all of you xian friends to DO IT. Love your enemies, sell your s**t, leave your families, and wander around doing nothing but worshiping jesus, in your cave.
Mr. Puzzled. Ho w amny millions have died because of religion? Is your jesus better than Budda? Or is it better than a sacred cow? You don't need religion to be a good person. You don't need to live in fear and still be a good person. Now, most of Europe, Canada, and other advanced countires have gone past religion and do not reply on bizzare beliefs to be happy in life. No other Prime Minister, President, or leader of any othe rcountry ends their speeches by blessing thier country like the americansd do(Welll amybe the muslims). Religion is poison to many. By the way, I need to ask you Mr. Puzzled. Who created the dinosaurs, or they they just a figment of my imagination???
Nothing infuriates me about Jesus the man.. Sure he was a good guy.. but he's been dead 2000 years.. The problem most people here have, I think, is the with concept of organized religion.. because its inherently intolerant and divisive, the cause of the most pain and suffering the whole of human history, and a front for people whose real agenda is power over others.. Always has been, always will be. It is what it is.. Its horrific , and has absolutely nothing to do with your faith (whatever your faith is in)..
WHY is this top and center just before an election??? The Amish and the Mennonites don't like to vote, very few of them do. They're afraid it means "being conformed to this world."
BEING A FENCE-SITTER IS NOT WHAT JESUS TAUGHT. You can't vote for Jesus in this election, well, you could write in his name, but THAT's what would be SILLY.
Jesus would rather have us be wholehearted about the WRONG thing than to believe in NOTHING. He wants us to make choices. He said, "I would rather that you should be HOT or COLD, but because you are lukewarm, I will SPIT you out of my mouth."
I think it's very inappropriate to quote a Mennonite at this time. COP-OUT is not what Jesus taught. Neutrality is not the path to peace. Jesus wasn't very neutral in his day, he deliberately offended the Jewish leaders because THEY offended HIM, and he said so. He called them snakes and vipers. No wonder they hated Him, but he called it like he saw it.
Jesus was NOT a wimp. The path to peace is not on the middle of the fence. You need to CHOOSE.
But lukewarm is a temperature within itself – not everything is black or white, or hot or cold.
Yes, I agree. But there's a lot less Gray Matter than there used to be.
Separate church and state, man.
Where was Jesus when millions were killed in the middles ages in his name?
Religion is a crime and must be banned,American fools!
The god of the bible is a terrorist who killed millions and then sent his only terrorist son jesus so he could torture moral non believers in hell while pampering Christians rapists and child molesting priest in fairytale disgusting Christian heaven. Christianity is a joke and can’t be believed by a thinking person.
It doesn’t matter what you say, the bible is untrue regardless who claims it to be true. The proof is in the content. The bible has hundreds and hundreds of contradictions, visit http://www.project-reason.org The new testament is a third person recount of someones “life”, its all myth and supernatural fairytales.
You sound angry.Meybe you should seek help.
I wish I could be around when years from now religion will be studied by students as a curiousity. Like learning how our ancestors thought the world was flat and that they burned people because they thought they were witches, worshipped sun and moon gods and sacrificed people and animals to volcanos to spare them from it's wrath. The entire religion(s) story is so ridiculous, I am surprised that in 2012 anyone can still hold on to it as truth considering all we know now. Can you imagine where people will be in 500 years? The world will be unrecognizable in ways I can only begin to imagine: we will all probably be living completely in virtual worlds with most work and tasks being performed remotely and with humanoids and robots as the majority of physical workforce. I don't know this to be sure but one thing I am certain of : religion will finally be a relic of the past and will be looked upon as one of most curious in human history (along with war).
YES! Could not agree more.. How any rational, thinking human being can subscribe to ANY religious nonsense in this day and age is completely amazing. It continues to speak to the power of brainwashing, an inherently evil human trait..
I'm with you.. Only wish I could be here to the end of it.. The world will be a far better place...
it is a true testament to the quality of indoctrination.
I wish I could be around when years from now religion will be studied by students as a curiousity................' Creation is finite. Nobody gives a hoot about history. Name me 30 famous roman leaders.
If I were running for office, would you vote for me? What have I done for this world, let alone this country? Take a look around and you will find your answers. If you still believe and have faith in me after that, then let me know. I'll be sure to tell my friend Santa Clause to bring you a "thank you" gift on Christmas eve.
My one prayer for elections, is that informed voters of all faiths go to the polls and remember to keep "church and state" separate. It is the very freedom that drove the English to settle in a new land and fight for freedom. We are a diverse nation, and as a Christian, I don't want any politicians in office who cannot keep "church and state" laws/decisions separate. Good people will vote for Obama as well as for Romney. To make faith such an issue in a presidential election is not to "vote for Jesus". It is to enmesh "church and state" rather than separate it, as those first English settlers would have recognized long ago.
How can you keep religion out of election when abortion and gay marriage is involved.
Jesus, the Bread of Life
Once Jesus was persecuted by the Scribes and Pharisees (leaders of the ancient Jews) because he dared to cure a man at Sabbath (the religious leaders implied that Jesus wanted to earn money like they themselves but they made a mistake). Hence, Jesus escaped to Galilee which was somewhat more pagan (secular) than Judea, and there Jesus faced less danger than in Judea.
At Lake Galilee there was a certain mountain which Jesus always used as a kind of church (every place where God Jesus is, is a church). Actually Jesus had prefered the House of his Father, the Temple of Jerusalem for preaching but the Jews persecuted him.
Many people from all Palestine came to Jesus, and he welcomed them in his church (the mountain). Jesus expressed his hospitality by making bread and fishes for more than 5000 thousand people.
Regretably they misunderstood him and thought he would be something like a supernatural baker.
Yet, Jesus did not become angry but told them of a special bread which is at least as important like our daily bread, even more important.
He told them that he himself is the Bread of Life, not a magical bread, of course, but a bread which can change us. He told them that they need to eat his flesh and to drink his blood (somewhat strange). He meant that they needed to get baptized because at sacramental baptism we get metaphysically connected with Jesus, with his death and resurrection. People knew also the sermons of John the Baptist who had told them that they should share there daily bread with people in need. When we get united with Jesus we lose our egoism, and become able to love our fellow human beings.
Hence, when we believe ín Jesus, we start to share our daily bread with people in need in the power of Jesus' love which we received at baptism. That is the mystery of baptism.
Don't always seek normal bread, but also the Bread of Life, Jesus.
The fact this article is a CNN headline is a joke.
I actually think so, too, and I'm a committed Christian. I think it's very inappropriate. The article is written by a Mennonite, and they don't like to vote. Most of them don't. This is seriously off-topic.
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.