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.
Really cnn, this is what you have become? Just another tool for big money? Obviously you can be bought by the money changers. When Jesus was around abortion was a fact of life, not a happy one, but there. They did not name a kid until they were sure he was going to survive. All this life starts at conception is a man made New thing created by white men in dresses that want to control the masses. Grow up and stop following the money changers........
Good call, Lola.
Jesus, God, religion, OUT of POLITICS NOW! Please...you've F'ed it up enough already. Spare us your ancient drivel and step aside. The only reason politicians pander to you, is they are forced to pander to the zealots who always need an easy bandwagon to jump on rather than try something more difficult, like educating themselves.
My vote is for Jesus...keep it to yourself. I hate to break it to you, he's been dead a long, long time and he is so yesterday. Move on for the sake of everyone.
PS, If I wanted to join a church, I would. Stuffing it down our throats in the political arena is just another lazy way of getting your lame religious rhetoric out there. Ryan and the others should be evaluated by psychiatrists, there is a condition assigned to that behavior I'm certain and I think it is narcissistic personality disorder.
The progressives took over the churches. You got nuttin' to complain about.
Not talking about the 1800's.
Well said. I live in Canada and I want the same for this country you took the words out of my mouth and I am sure the pastor of the chuch that my wife and I attend. God bless you.
And the majority of the Canadian population who aren't Christian can just go to h@@l, eh? Who needs the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, anyway?
Advocating any religion on CNN is a disservice to its readers and is a defacto endorsement of 1 religious FACTION over another.
This story belongs in the religion section...NOT THE TOP STORY ON THE FRONT PAGE...
From FOX we expect this, but why here? ??
Fellow Christians, here is small sliver of what they believe:
Garden of Eden was in Missouri when Adam and Eve were kicked out
Jesus atoned for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, not on the cross
Native Americans are the descendants of the Lamanites spoken of in the Book of Mormon
A woman's purpose in heaven is solely to birth endless babies to populate the worlds created by their husbands. Billions and billions of babies!
You can't get into heaven without Joseph Smith's permission
Mormons are NOT Christians.
There are a hundred things wrong with this article and the arrogance of religion over the power if the people, but the most ridiculous of his comments were about war and peace. You take communion to show solidarity with Christ, yet almost every war in history was an act of religion. The emptiness of communion and its ritual makes this article even less needful. You cannot declare solidarity with Christ when priests are molesting children, people are fighting over which god is the right god, and those who suffer sit homeless on the steps of monstrous cathedrals costing hundreds of millions of dollars. I'm fairly certain god didn't have the vision of greed and self promotion in mind when he made us in his image. Or you could be realistic and just say that all of it is the result of power hungry hate mongers creating a way to continue to oppress and control the disenfranchised.
"Onward Christian Soldiers, Onward on to war, With the cross of jesus" god I love that song. 666
I want a feast on Sunday mornings with my family reunions. Pass the wine and don't be so stingy with it this time.
Being a moral person who is good and kind and one who and respectful of another person's faith and opinions is more important than a religous person who is intolerant and looks down on people who follow other religions . Religion needs to stay out of politics.
America has become the center for religious NUTS. Sad for this great country..
Go head, it's a free country, proclaim your loyalty to Jesus. But remember, religion and politics are separate in this republic. When you have to file for unemployment, you go to Uncle Sam, not to Jesus.
Maybe they should go to jesus, see how much they get.
Unca Suga is the gubmint god. Our fadder, who art in washington, hollow is thy name, ya big bully usurping control over everything.
Go head, it's a free country,............'.....Lyin' is not helpful.
A true Christian would be in 100% support of God's kingdom and his heavenly government which Jesus told his disciples to pray for. Not mankind's failed self rule. Mankind cannot bring about peace and security for all. But God's kingdom by Christ can. True Christians are no part of the world, and do not get involved in man's government!
nonsense. when "true" is used as an adjective nothing reasonable is in the statement.
Why does CNN even cover Christianity? Ted Turner who founded CNN, is vehemently anti-Christian. CNN normally posts incredibly anti-Christian articles, especially around Easter and Christmas. CNN and Vladimir Lenin have a lot in common.
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 "worked" at Sabbath but they made a mistake because Jesus simply loved the sick man, and cured his soul and his body for free which was a divine service). Hence, Jesus escaped to Galilee which was somewhat more pagan (secular) than Judea, and there Jesus could preach the gospel of himself more undisturbed.
At Lake Galilee there was a certain mountain (maybe the mountain of the Sermon on the Mount) 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 people. People mainly seeked Jesus because they knew that he could cure but Jesus forgave their earthiness. and told them how they could enter God's Kingdom.
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 do 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.
Not the place for this bs. This is the problem with you people you just don't know where to draw the line.
This is a discussion board to talk about why it is stupid for you to vote based on biblical reasons and not facts.
This is not the place for you to force your fictional ideologies on others. Keep that s$&t in your church or within the confines of those you wish to read your nonsensical babblings.
Regardless of our religious and political beliefs we must respect one another. Religious wars and wars in general occurred due to the lack of respect. If you Believe, then you Believe; if you do not Believe, then you do not. What we must never forget is that we are humans first and foremast and this necessitates respect or else war and anger will continue.
War and anger will continue.
Tom piper....I am a gulf war veteran, attend church once and while and believe in God. I have seen Atheist in this country sue our school district over Christmas trees. I have seen my kid be told he can't paint a christmas tree even if it was an open non religious project. I was told in the grocery line that my cross if offensive and face book posting slamming god. Then I read here about how all Christians are alike and I start to think....maybe it is the atheist that have the problem here.
I call bullish!t on your claims. You are either telling outright lies or you're telling half-truths.
Grow up. Be honest. Your posts reek of hatred for anyone who doesn't believe as you do and do as you say is right.
If you can't tell the full story, don't bother posting.
We would actually probably get along as many of my friend don't believe they just respect my right to believe.
lies about what????
You haven't told the whole truth about the events you describe. When do you plan to do that?
Are you sure you are not talking about people that are defending the Consti*tution, keeping the separation of church and state intact whether they be atheist, agnostic or other belief besides christian. Very narrow view you have.
You seem to think that Christians have some right to display Christian symbols in a public school. They do not. Public schools are supported by taxpayer's money and are not to promote one religion over another. If your kid was supposed to paint something non-religious, a Christmas tree does not satisfy the requirement. I have nothing against teaching ABOUT religious beliefs in school, as long as all beliefs are taught and one religion is not endorsed or promoted over others.
You think women should become second-class citizens when they become pregnant and should be forced to give birth against their will. How would you feel about being forced to give up one of your organs against your will? The principle is the same: women have a right to their decisions about their bodies and that includes the right to decide what is best for them. If you think abortion is murder, then you don't understand the definition of murder. I suggest you take advantage of your military background and get some education.
JC continues to insist that he's being silenced. Pretty funny considering the number of posts he's banged out on here.
What you don't get, JC, is that your right to practice what you believe is limited to the point at which said practices infringe on my rights under law. You don't get to use my tax money for public schools and then turn them into Christian schools. You don't get to infringe on my right to do something you find morally wrong when it doesn't affect you or anyone else.
If an atheist objected to a Christmas tree because of religion, someone should have told them that the origin of Christmas trees is pagan. From the book of Jeremiah, 10: 1-5 "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. 3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. 5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."
Evergreen wreaths, swags, and trees were also decorated and used by pagans for their Yule celebrations. Christians "adopted" the Christmas tree tradition around the turn of the last century, when retailers got the wonderful idea to promote Christmas as a season of gift giving, in order to increase sales and profits. For people who object to the term "X-Mas" because it doesn't have Christ's name in it, "X" is the Greek symbol for "Christos", or "Christ." Literally. My husbands family freaks out over Happy Holidays, because it takes the Christ out of the season, but I like to say "Happy Hannukah!" or "Happy Kwanzaa!". Why do I say this if I not Jewish, or African? Why not? I am not a Christian, so what I say makes about as much sense to me as insisting on "Merry Christmas."
Doesn't matter, es. A Christmas tree now is not pagan. It has religious symbolism. It was given that symbolism by Christians; they can't turn around now and insist that it's not a symbol when they're the ones who made it so.
Thanks for reminding me why I left the Repbublicans and the "Christian church", and why I'll be voting for Dems in the coming election.
"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 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 Republachristians pressed for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have suggested more of the same in Iran. They also have tried to consistently tear down the social programs that work to keep our population from falling into poverty. They have no emphathic concern to what the Bible calls "the least of us". The Republachristians have stood against healthcare reform. The Republachristians have stood against environmental reforms and protections, and have worked the hardest to insert themselves into peoples private lives.
That is the BEST response possible! To be with God, regardless of which religion, is to love and care for each other, and that is why I, like the compassionate and lucid half of this country, vote for the dems.
So you are voting for "Jesus" in a secular democracy? So in translation: you are an utter moron!
Long, rambling and doesn't seem to establish any real point whatsoever...this all set aside from the glaringly flawed religious perspective. Not worthy of publishing.
Thank you for your well written piece. I am sad at the negative comments about Jesus. He is real and I pray that those who do not know him may too share in his love. It is easier to love Jesus than it is to hate him. God Bless all of you!
There is an endless amount of immature name calling here, mostly by the left. Grow up people. Log off if you aren't willing to have a civil debate on the subject. Just saying..
Log off if it bothers you. There are plenty of other places on the web.
Tom Tom, I pity your meaningless existence. I bet you could really use a big hug. Your probably a nice person down deep. My old self would like to beat the crap out of you, but now I think I would rather befriend you and invite you over to watch some football today. What do you think about them apples?
My life is full of meaning. I have a wonderful husband and family. I have a rewarding and successful career. I am active in my community and donate quite generously to charity. I have a wide and varied circle of friends, straight, gay, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, white, black, Latino, and Asian. I read voraciously, and was brought up in the church. I left when I saw the rank hypocrisy of the people who stood next to me every week.
I don't need your hugs and I don't care to watch football. I don't oppose your having beliefs. I do oppose your attempting to force me to live by them when we are citizens of a secular nation.
If that bothers you, you have lots of choices: don't read my posts, leave the blog and go elsewhere, realize that I have a right to disagree and oppose your views, or present reasonable arguments that explain your thoughts.
Jesus would not vote for the party of the pre-born baby killers.
Another spokesman for a guy who died 2000 years ago and never wrote a single word of any kind, much less about abortion.
Nor would he vote for the party of the rich oppressors and labor exploiters.
Would he vote for a mass murdering (First Born Baby Killer) Sky God?
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.