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.
Jesus is cool, but his fan club is not my favorite. If he's so important to Christians, why don't they pay more attention to what Jesus said and did?
He didn't say go out and kill in my name.
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.
I would vote for Jesus in exchange for a cabinet position.
Scary. I'll light one up instead. (cough)
Keep religion out of politics. It's going extinct soon. Convert cemeteries into memorial gardens and churches into community centers and shelters.
It's fine if you want to post drivel like this under Belief Blog, but to have this front and center as the headline? GOOD GRIEF. This is embarrassing for you. You want to have a corner for the religious to beat their chests and bleat about their preferred mythology? That's fine and dandy. It's just like having a column for opinion pieces – we know it's opinion and not news. However, posting this on the front pace gives it a legitimacy that it doesn't deserve. This is the Cable News Network, not the Christian News Network. Try to remember that.
As for the actual content... blah, blah, blah, Jesus, blah, blah, God, blah, mythology, magic, zombies... blah, blah, blah. Religion has never made anything better. Jesus was a myth. If you're spending your election day pondering mythology instead of the very real-world problems that need to be addressed, then you should skip voting and stay in your churches to talk to your imaginary friends. The rest of us are busy trying to figure out how to deal with the REAL problems of the world.
I second that resoundingly. This crap has no business on CNN.
Good morning! Now this is a real intelligent comment! There is still hope for America when I see that there are people like you.
How could this criminal religion establish such deep poisonous roots in the heart of America?
Confiscate the billions of the church, ban their rabid preaching and the world will be a better place..
And remove the silly IN GOD WE TRUST from your dollars if the state is really separated from the Cancerous Church!
We don't need god to tell us abortion is wrong. I don't even go to church but I know that abortion is morally wrong. I am sure that the atheist mind has no use for morals.
Then I am sure that you are not that bright...
Hey JC...I think there are more religious people in prisons than atheists...there were studies on this. Take your holiness and cram it where the sun doesn't shine. We atheists don't need phony mythology to keep us doing the right thing. Apparently you do.
Which says nothing except you know exactly zero about the atheist mind. And, hate to break it to you, but here are millions of pro-choice Christians and members of every other faith.
That is a straw man argument. People of faith are more likely to get parole, atheists are liars and murderers but not stupid in the educated sense. Any imprisoned atheist knows it is in their own best interests (any atheists favorite topic ie themselves) to adopt a guise of belief to lessen their deserved punishment. All atheists have some previous claim to a belief system even if they only "walked" past a church once and are not bound by any moral sense to be truthful.
So you only do right because you're afraid of burning in hell? Nice.
How much education do you have, JC?
From your posts, I'm guessing not much beyond high school.
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.
By the way, also the great Benjamin Franklin said that the center of true faith should be charity.
When Jesus returns, will he find charity in the USA? Will he find faith in the USA when he returns?
How to we get the power to overcome our egoism or selfishness? It is the faith in Jesus.
Take the Bread of Life, and you will become able to share the bread which you have earned by your work.
Sorry, I meant 5000, not 5000 thousand.
Jesus was a jew himself , so what do the jews have to do with the rest of the crap?
How can people be so brainless to believe in this crap is mind boggling to me....
Where was Jesus when millions were killed in the middles ages in his name?
Religion is a crime and must be banned,American fools! I can't believe how close the americans are close to their saudi brothers and sisters in their religious craziness.Religion has done more damage ,death and destruction than anything else on this earth.
I want to throw up when I listen to all this nonsense Jesus talk. Ban religion outright,fools!
Be careful, not all of us are like that.....
Most religions use their particular god to reinforce their own prejudices. I have read the bible and do not see how a christian could be a republican, based upon the teachings of Jesus, but when you study the demographics of who is in favor of: war, torture, and capital punishment, there they are, the holier than thou christians. Go figure.
CNN published this just to get a rise out of liberals...looks like they fell for it.
Haha that is priceless!
Most liberals in this country are Christians. Most rational people are non-religious.
Leo – now that is a dumb statement!
This reply is for Leo. You have no clue. Rationality does not exist on the right wing side. Your cynical politicians are playing the religionists like an out of tune piano. Republican politicians believe in profit, and have sold their souls to make it happen. If they were honest, no one would vote for them, as Romney has, for some reason, been honest about. They have selected the most gullible among us, the christians, to focus their disinformation upon. If christians were rational, they wouldn't be christians.
Really, CNN? This silliness is your second top story? Why don't you cover the NEWS and leave the fictions to others.
Please keep your religion out of my life and out of my politics. I made the very studied and very consciece decision to be a non-believer years ago and in this country, I have the right not to have to your religious beliefs thrust upon me, just like you have the right to pursue any religious beliefs you want, in your own life. Just don't shove them down my throat, thank you very much.
So i can have my religion I just can't talk about it....thanks for clearing that up pr me kind Atheist!
Since you are blabbering here still, JC, obviously you can talk about it. Unfortunately, what you have to say about it is dreck. But it's certainly your right to look absolutely stupid and ignorant about religious belief if you choose to do so.
Yeah, but when your atheist ideology clashes with the common knowledge of what is right and what is wrong, and you want to remove the right laws and principles and replace them with your godless ones, that's when we will not sit back and do nothing. You say, you don't want our religion shoved down your throat..... well, we won't stand meek and humble and let you shove your garbage down our throats. Is that clear?!
Ridiculous. You wish to ban abortion for all, instead of just not having one yourself. The equivalent would be people forcing abortions on people (like the Chinese government does.) Allowing them to legal and let people choose for themselves based on whatever criteria they choose is FAIR.
That's just one example, but you get the point, I hope.
I agree. We need Gods help and guidance now more than ever
Cool, go ahead and vote him into office and we'll see where it goes.
Correction....you may need gods help and guidance in you own PERSONAL life. His "guidance" has no place in this FREE country.
No, Brenda. The only guidance, and salvation, comes from ourselves. What we need in this country, and the world for that matter, are fewer "sheep."
So much hatred on this site. I'll pray for all those who have turned so cynical when speaking of Jesus Christ. There is still time to change your ways and follow him, God bless all of you!
Hatred? Cynical? Sugar-plum, it's not hate or cynicism to have GROWN UP and realized that this religion is mythology, just like every other religion on earth.
Man, seriously, when did "Separation of Church and State" stop being a thing? I always thought that it was one of the points of the country–it's not supposed to be a "Christian Nation" anymore than it should be a "Jewish Nation" or a (brace yourselves, Tea Partiers) "Muslim Nation" or a "Hindu Nation" or whatever. It's the Presidency we're talking about here, not the Papacy. Would everyone just calm down with the "x candidate is going to destroy my personal relationship with God" business?
Jesus would be a "bleeding heart" liberal.
Jesus isn't running. He's dead. And he couldn't be president anyway since he wasn't born in this country. Then again, neither was Obama.
Didn't Jesus rise from the dead?? So he should be around the corner watching over us.. Ha ha..
What a scam and how many billions believe in this rubbish...
You had me convinced until you went all birther.
They should just revoke the US citizenships of all Muslims in the US.
What a complete idiotic loser. Go crawl back under your rock.
CNN is doing the best it can to throw religion into the mix....in fact anything they can to help Obama win. Remember 2008? Obama was allowed to simply denounce his TWENTY-YEAR relationship with Rev. Wright with no questions asked. The media gushed all over his famous speech where he pretended that he did no wrong.
All I hope is that people vote for the best candidate based on issues and policies, not the media's portrayal. Wishful thinking I suppose. The choice is pretty obvious: 4 more years of a clueless leader running the debt-ridden economy stuck in neutral, or someone who has a clue how to manage money.
This is one of the lamest articles I've ever read, CNN should be ashamed.
No, this is one of the greatest articles cnn has had on their site.
whhat about the americans that do not follow your christ or even believe in your, or any, god? you do not care that your beliefs and votes and superpacs deny them rights your faith disagrees with in a democracy. protect civil rights, not christian rights.
Amanda… I understand your point, but the only rights worth having are those which conform to the word of God. Any rights which do not conform to the word of God (such as the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, which is an abomination before God) may be appeasing to your flesh in the here and now, but will only lead your soul to hell. So for politicians to pass a law which only leads a person's soul hell is hardly looking out for their best interest.
And before you say, we don't believe in your Christ, or your God, or your offer of salvation etc, so your beliefs and recommendations don't apply to us, consider this…. "Belief" is not a requirement to go to hell. Just because you don't believe in hell will not prevent you from going there. When you die, you will still go there whether you believe in it or not. Belief is only a requirement to get to heaven…
What a load of manure, Opp. You don't run the nation. Your religion is not the law. Never was.
Grow up, Tom Tom...
Opp, you're the one who's being a big crybaby because no one is obeying your god. It doesn't work that way in this country. If you don't like the fact that our laws aren't based on the bible, then you're in the wrong place.
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.