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.
How the White House changed Barack Obama’s faith
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.
The making of a candidate: Mitt Romney’s faith journey
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.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
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.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
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.
Prayer changes things.
prayer is just wishing that something was so.... something children do often.
There is a wonderful joy in prayer known to quite a few, this very day with humble heart that joy is reserved for you. God bless
I agree. I think some of you religion bashers are speaking out of fear. You don't know if there is infact a God so you stomp on people who believe.
believing something with no evidence makes you a fool.
Where were your God and Jesus when the storm destroyed the coast?
Pascal's wager pretty much sums it up. Bet however you like. Science cannot prove or disprove God.
What does it change? Things? Who changes those things? It might help you personally but prayer is a meaningless waste of time.
If things change with prayer consider yourself lucky. Because things change by DOING something. And prayer is really not doing anything except asking for something from....something.
Good job. Collect that paycheck you showed up for and keep your prayer to yourself.
god was punishing NJ for Jersey Shore on MTV. That would be my guess. We must wait and see what god whispers to Pat Robertson because he is credible.
Are you saying New Jersey doesn't have a coast anymore? Or it doesn't have the coast you think it should ? Who are you?
God gave science to mankind.
No, prayer changes NOTHING!
Prayer is nothing more than wishful thinking.
If prayer worked every Christian in the world would be healthy, rich, and powerful.
The only thing that changes due to prayer is the time wasted doing it
Are you kidding me??? Who the heck speaks like this and expects to be taken seriously??
".....thousands of Christians will take the bread and the cup to remember their crucified Lord"
"....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"
Go and love your Crucified lord and keep your silly little sayings for your silly little community.
Because the last time I checked all things did not fall under the "lordship of Christ"............My god gimme a break you sap.
It is symbolic- you know symbolism, something you learned about in literature class in what 7th/8th grade?????
Perfectly state, Mike!
There is nothing wrong with having faith or believing in a God. Just wait until life throws you a curve ball... you'll be on your hands and knees asking for some type of God to help you.
vanna: when people use those beliefs to deny others' their civil rights, we have a problem
Vanna, it's a very simplistic way to think. There is no magical man in the sky, stop being so silly.
why is it you christins all ways think if something goes wroung whit someones life they turn to your belefs for comfort. I call that being weak and thats the kind of pepole you get weak minded.
Quote> the Indiana pastor says too many believers are shaped more by politics than by Jesus.<Quote
Which is exactly the difference between a theocracy and a democracy. Maybe mr. Schloneger is confused whether he lives in America or Afghanistan?
However people in a democracy have freedom of religion and based on your post and several others you would use your atheistic agenda and take their choices from them. You sir are no better than the Taliban in which you speak. People have a right to their faith, which you mock and deny them. I think Hitler began doing the same things in Germany.
So I guess that he won't be voting for the Mormon then, right?
you must have missed the news... BILLY GRAHAM decided mormonism isnt a cult. Too bad christianity is a cult.
I'd vote for Jesus, too. But I doubt he'd go for Republican policies once he'd be in office.
LOL. Jesus would definitely be a democrat and he would do the Darth Vader choke move on Todd Akin.
I say vote for the guy with the magic underwear. And the cadillacs. And the seven houses. And all the tax-free income prior to running for the presidency. And the horses that do that wacky goose-step or whatever the hell it is. And the company that sent all those jobs overseas, Bane Capitolize on Cheap Third World Labor or something. And the multi-million dollar tax-dodge accounts in the Cayman Islands (hey, all us rich folks do it... we WROTE THE LAWS!). And the guy who has Eddie Munster as his running mate. The guy who wants to bring wooden ships back to the Navy. The guy who has a plan for Americas future... just no details. I like that guy.
ORGANIZED Religion is the first and foremost threat to the survival of mankind and of civilization ! ! !
The PROOF lies in history ! ! ! - And in the present ! ! ! - Open eyes, Folks ! ! !
Atheists have tortured and murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries.
Let's keep in perspective: Faith is an entirely personal thing. It isn't going to be proven; however, for some people much brighter than you or me (Werner Hiesenberg for example but there is a very long list of theoretical and astrophysicists who are theists) , proof of God can be extrapolated from nature. For example, our universe expanded at a very precise rate. If the 15th decimal place of that number had been off by one then subatomic particles would not have been able to form hydrogen. No hydrogen, no stars. No stars no super novae. No super novae, no heavier elements. No heavier elements no you and me to question our origin and be aware of the cosmos. This example proves nothing; however there are many many theoretical physicists who believe this is just far too fantastic to be a coincidence. I recommend Paul Davies (he's affiliated with Dept of Astronomy at University of Arizona) book "The Mind of God". It never hurts to read all the way around a topic, stare at it from all sides. That's an intelligent way to approach a subject. Keep hold of your sense of wonder
Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin... shall we continue? Evil is present everywhere. It is present in people who claim to be believers in a particular faith, it is present in those who claim there is nothing to have faith in. To assert otherwise is either naive or willfully ignorant
"Atheists have tortured and murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries."
Communists and dictators have carried out those deeds.
No one kills in the name of........... "non belief"
It takes a belief system to have human beings resort to killing and murder....the bible is full of murder and mayhem.
All atheists in power have been mass murderers . They all do it not for atheism but because of atheism. Lying and murder are the top two traits of all atheists, only lack of power restrains the majority of atheists from their blood lust.
A central tenant of communism is atheism. you can't just history so that it is convenient for your argument.
Religion is a cancer on civilization and good sense.
Nothern- Seriously, they were atheists, and it was their agenda to stamp out religion- look up history before you speak.
@ Whitman 30
The communists and dictators wanted to stamp religion and "all" other forms of social organization ....in order to have "absolute control" over a society.....the "state" was to be the religion.
The fundamentalist Islamic people are no different than communists or dictators .....in that if you do not agree with there beliefs or social philosophy than you are in the way and must be purged.
Just as the Republicans believe that "their" views on abortion and justice are right (no pun intended) ....because they think laws should be governed by the Christian belief system.
If society were more secular and systems of laws were based on reason and logic then then we would be much better off than a system attempting to be based on bronze age scripture.
I agree allen religon will be the folly of all mankind.
What happened to, "Render unto Cesar what is Cesar's and unto God what is God's?"
The Roman empire collapsed and unfortunately christianity remains.
When Cesar shows back up, then hell get whats his..... and as for god..., isnt that defined on this earth as the catholic church... dont they have enouff $$??? they should be giving there money to your..... not the other way around.... der.....
Thats exactly what he is saying.
@ Captain America
Ya you did participate in WW1 and WW2 .....and as history recalls you came to the party "late" on both occasions.
Most Americans did not wish to venture into WW2 ....until Pearl Harbour.....you sat on the sidelines until December 7, 1941.
You Yanks are in deep doodoo. Religion is a personal thing, not something to be bought and sold.
Didn't we kick the sh it out of you twice in the last century alone? Are you working up the balls for another ass whooping? There's your sign.
SOLD! Take it. No returns.
It's very easy to say you are a Christian, much harder to be one. It seems to me that most "Christians" ignore most of what Jesus said almost entirely, and are not really "Chritians" at all. For example what about this: "Wheneve you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in private" (Matthew 6:6). Here is another one that seems pretty much ignored by virtually all "Christians": "In the same way, none of you can be my disiple if he does not renounce all his possessions" (Luke 14:33). Jesus had very few "rules" that he spoke of other than the Golden Rule (love your neighbor as yourself) and to love God above self, and yet there was one other that Jesus spoke of that is almost entirely ignored, (at least by protestants) and it wasn't about gay marrigage at all, it was about divorce. "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another commits adultry" (Mark 10:12).
Marriage always benefited the man more than the woman, and that was written at a time when men were the only ones who could read, for the most part.
On that we agree. Most people running around espouses Christianity aren't really practicing what they preach. I know many who are voting against Obama simply because he is black; however if they really believed, they wouldn't vote for someone who espouses the spirit of antiChrist according to their religious practices. It has become the Pharisees all over again.
Why are christians so against gay marriage ? How does it affect their lives? Are they just looking for another group to hate ?
They say stuff like "gay marriage will be the end of the human race". Do they think that everyone will become gay if gay marriage is allowed? And even if everyone did become gay, they can still procreate.
I think they just want someone to attack, cuz it makes them feel special.
Why can't we all just get along.
To imply that salvation and politics are somehow related is to say that there is a relationship between love and taking a dump.
and unfortunately for some there is that relationship. they love to take a dump on others BECAUSE jesus told them to...at least that is what they believe... i believe cows can fly. they just dont do it when we are watching... BUT I have faith. Thats a good thing. Believing something with no evidence.
So if a person is from a blue state but living in a red state, the red state Christians would say the new blue state christian is on the wrong path because the blue state Christian is not following the red state Christian path. The same would hold true in reverse. So, in this strange universe, salvation is actually regional. If you are on the wrong path in one state, move to another state and be assured salvation.
And what would be the case for being Jewish or Buddhist?
I am sorry....I did not understand a word of this essay. It made no sense to me. If he was saying that maybe religious folks ought to stay out of politics, that is fine. I just did not get this.
"I am sorry....I did not understand a word of this essay. It made no sense to me"
That's because the topic involves..... religion .....it does not have to make sense.
If you're tired of being evangelized at by the Christian News Network (CNN), recommend you try a few of the remaining online news agencies: http://www.cbsnews.com/ , http://www.nbcnews.com/ , and http://www.csmonitor.com to name a few.
I like your style. Maybe I should go over to another website
You're stupid. This is not a country ruled by religion. Stupid preachers and their hypocritical ways. You're nonvoting is messing up this country.
Faith is a part of each individual's life, or it's not (as in the case of atheists). The writer of this opinion piece is just voting his conscience, as I think all of us will on Nov. 4th. To me, I am looking at who will be sitting in the White House when it is time to appoint another member of the Supreme Court, which will happen in the next four years. If you want to see more of your civil liberties vanish, vote Republican. In MY opinion, any woman who votes for a GOP candidate has just handed over control of her body to a man.
God is not real. Silly theists pledging their lives to a dumb book
bunch of morons.
Yes indeed. Much more intelligent to believe that without any outside help or information that it rained on rocks for billions of years making soup, the soup decided to erect DNA, ad infinitum ad nauseum. Yep, that makes much more sense than an intelligent designer.
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for Mitt to enter the white house of great America.
Great and America in the same sentence. Now that is funny.
great will not be in same sentence as America if Mitt Romney is elected. He will single handedly remove the need for that superlative.
no one cares about your damed camel stop saying the same thing.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
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.