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.
Good. Write-in vote for Jesus. That's one less republican vote we'll have to worry about – hopefully millions. And when he's elected you can all sit around and worship an empty chair, just as you did during your pathetic convention.
Now get this straight.They did not worship the empty chair.The empty chair represented the president,on which they heaped ridicule.They worshiped the old guy talking to the empty chair.In the world, on the other side of the rainbow,this makes perfect sense.
I'm labeled a conservative/Republican(by today's standards of societal labels) and I believe in Jesus Christ. How does your argument hold water again?
BTW – I don't support George W. Bush, George HW Bush, Romney, John McCain; nor Bill Clinton, Barry Obama, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon. THEY are all false prophets (wolves) deciding what's for dinner in a sheep's den.
But wait...after reading your dubious objection, when it comes right down to it you just don't like anybody, now do you. Guess you forgot to add fundamentalist to your tag list.
Jesus Christ avoided attempts to draw him into the political situation in Israel during his ministry, and for good reason. He didn't want his teachings to be hijacked by people whose actual motives had nothing to do with God, but rather with poltical methodologies and actions which clearly were in opposition to his message. Jesus taught that people need to change from being motivated by selfishness, which often translated into violence and warfare, and instead be people who live by and promoted peace. His ultimate message is that he came to reconcile people with God, employing the underlying good news of peace and forgiveness for people from God, which needs to be translated into peace between individuals and peace in general.
Don't forget the inbred Herodian dynasty folk were descended from Esau and wanted to be heroes or mediators.
The Bible was written long ago with the beliefs of the people who lived during that time period. It is not based on the words if some almighty ghost who is supposed to be so powerful that he created everything, but is so selfish he commands his followers to kill thousands who don't believe in him. Grow up already a stop believing in fairy tales!
We need to send 'Jesus' back to Mexico! US economics would greatly improve!
Welcome to Mexico Senior, where are you going?
Señor, not Senior.
Thank you senior, where are you going?
Jesus was born of Immigrant parents. Jesus was already sent as a child to Egypt than back to Nazareth than Galilea, then Capernaum, then Jerusalem, some times in the middle of the night and in secrecy, without proper permits, etc. etc. That's why he said: "nobody is a prophet in his own land." God commanded man to fill and replenish the earth to the farthest corner, than the end will come. Wyoming and North Dakota still look too empty to me. Keep on moving forward, Jesus! We got your back!
Deporting Jesus??? Non sense.. after all the wars and suffering that has been inflicted in his name..I would crucify him if I had the chance.
I haven’t read this article but I don’t care for what it says based on the posts I have read.
From what I can tell, Jesus in not actually running for president, but if he was he would put an end to starvation. Additionally, Obama is a baby killer. I did not even know that. Romney is interested only in world domination.
If that weren’t bad enough, the atheists hate Christians so much that they insist and being honest about god and faith. The Christians just want the f.ags to be killed. Killed or something. I am not clear. I guess as long as they have no rights whatever, that will do.
The Hindu ism evil of the earth is ever present and must be defeated by the Muslims and if you are a preacher in a Christian church you may be a Christian.
Well, Local, you're certainly right about one thing; you are not clear.
What you say means nothing. In two-and-a-half-days, it's all over . . . barring some repeat of 2000.
Both candidates are mediocrities. Neither is as good as their side says, nor as bad as the other side says. But they are not greats. Not by a long shot.
The whole religion issue is actually a fraud. It's a "hot button" issue, an intentional manipulation that gets people all chummed up and ready to vote and send money. It's exactly the kind of thing that they want you to be focused on, because . . .
. . . they don't have to deliver anything.
They made no promises, they set no expectations, and religion is not anything they have to do anything about.
Do you really think that religion is going to have much to do with economics, taxes, roads, foreign policy, or any of the other things government actually does?
The gun community is controlled this way. They have thought Obama to be the anti-Christ, but the never said he would enact any legislation, nor has he ever tried. But still they howl and vote and send money in their paranoid fear and rage. And guess what? The gun and ammo manufacturers LOVE Obama, just as they LOVED Clinton. Why? Because their sales are massively better than under Republicans. Don't believe it? Google it.
So don't be a rube. Vote for real world issues, not these fantasy distractions that only empower the people who manipulate you the most.
You do realize that it is your own side that manipulates you the most, don't you, rube?
A right-wing government take- over will have negative impact on women's rights,and on freedom from religious zealots
This author conveniently leves out the obvious. Christianity doesn't represent Jesus any more than the U.S. war machine represents peace and goodwill. The focus of Jesus is on loving one another and especially helping the sick, poor, minorities and the least among us. This is called "human rights", not religion. It makes sense that the Messiah would lay down the foundation for human rights, which Jesus clearly did. It makes no sense that God needs a religion, nor is there any historical or other evidence that Jesus ever intended to establish a religion.
I like your post. Well said!
Judging is so easy even the 'least' are assigned the job. Contrast that to the Beast's example.
Richard... "nor is there any historical or other evidence that Jesus ever intended to establish a religion???"
THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT HE EVEN EVER EXISTED, OTHER THAN THAT EVIL BOOK CALLED BIBLE !!!!
My vote goes to the person who believes in Jesus the least.
troll on troll
Same here. Would never vote for a jesus monger. i've been hearing about jesus all my life and I'm sick of it. Jesus this, jesus that. If only jesus christ's name was really 'Rumplestiltskin christ'. Then I wouldn't have to hear it so often. At least jesus name wasn't 'Tom.. We'd be hearing that name hundreds of times a day. "Praise our lord Tom Christ!" I can be thankful for muslims calling their prophet 'Mohammed'. Imagine if they started calling him 'Moe"? We'd be drowning in the word!
PRINCETON, NJ - More than 9 in 10 Americans still say "yes" when asked the basic question "Do you believe in God?"; this is down only slightly from the 1940s, when Gallup first asked this question.
Have you read the details of that study? As an atheist, I consider its findings very encouraging. Can you figure out why?
Those who believe in Jesus (Yesua) should go study Mithra whose name occurs in Vedic texts that are 3,500 years old. He was Son of God or Sun God and was born, in a cave, on December 21, had a circle of 12 friends (disciples representing the 12 signs of the Zodiac), had midnight suppers and was sometimes shown with a lamb on his shoulder. He is more often shown slaying a bull (the origin of bull fightiing). I have a 35 mm slide taken at Takht-e Jamshid in Iran in the summer of 1965 that shows a bearded man shoving a sword into the belly of a bull–Mithra slaying a bull. Each time you shake hands, you do what his followers did 3,500 years ago. His cult was wide-spread in the Roman army and that's how shaking hands became spread beyond ancient Persia. Those followers of the three Middle East's monotheistic religions should study Zarathustra who lived 3,200 years ago and is considered the world's first prophet. His version of creation listed one year, not the 6 days in the bible. If you believe in heaven or paradise (Old Persian paira daeza), in the devil (Old Persian daeva), in resurrection, in the coming of a messiah (Saoshyant), in judgement day and in angels, you follow the teachings of Zarathustra.
"Good thoughts. Good words. Good deeds." Zarathustra If you can do these things, why do you need an organized religion?
Those who pretend the words and deeds of Jesus can somhow be compared to Mithra or anybody else quite obviously haven't studied the evidence very carefully, if at all. A single sentence by Jesus, such as "you will know the truth and the truth will make you free", is far wiser than all of modern education combined, which fails to teach students that truth is the goal and freedom is the reason for wanting to be educated. Grow up, we've heard this tripe about Mithra before and, nobody in their right mind would compare it to Jesus.
Richard Aberdeen, since there is no evidence, you can say whatever you want like you always have. Who can argue with fantasy?
Your delusions and ignorance have been noted. Off you go.
"...imagine no religion. I wonder if you can. Nothing to kill or die for. A brotherhood of man..." John Lennon had it exactly right. From even before The Crusades until now, religion has caused more death and suffering than anything else. I believe some Christians believe war on Iran and others is a war for their religion, and not the betterment of man. Give me that old time science!
At one time scientists thought leeches could cure disease by sucking the bad blood out. At one time the most learned thought the earth was flat. So obviously science and scientific theories do not always equal the truth. If people didn‘t question science we would still be poking holes in people’s skulls to cure mental illness. When science says chocolate is bad, then years later it is proven benificial or eggs, coffee. When science says Carbon Dioxide is harmful to humans, yet plants require it to produce oxygen.
I do know the system. I doubt you do, because you have come across as merely dogmatic and dismissive of anyone who dares question science.
Actually scientist never believed and or thought such for these concepts existed before the scientific method came to be. Scientists did not even exist in these times.
"... the church has abandoned its first love for the siren song of political parties promising protection, prosperity and peace."
What awful, awful things: protection, prosperity, and peace — as opposed to slavery, misogyny, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, mindless conformity, genocide, and eternal torment in hell. Gee, I wonder what the problem could be with THAT message.
I mean the logical failures, the obvious ignorance of Christian theology, the rant against the despotic sky bully, and let us not forget the multiple examples of argumentum ad Hominem — it was all so utterly brilliant. I’ve rarely seen a comedic send up of atheist irrationality and ignorance so spot on as this one.
I used to be a republican, but the Jesus bothering really started to bother me. Then I started reading the drivel posted by my party members on boards like this, if they aren't making bigoted comments, they are saying things like 'gubmint' or 'sheeple'.
Christianity is about a personal relationship with Jesus. No one needs to hear about it for you to win Jesus points. There's no Jesus prize for talking about he who is the Jesus the most.
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I think the Flying Spaghetti Monster is going to beat Jesus in the 2016 election anyway.
This is one of the worst articles I've ever read. Oh, a pastor believes in Jesus??? Wow CNN, you've really sunk to a new low.
Only way to get out of human problems is to follow the teaching of Muslims, to solve problems your self not going to work, let Koran lead the world, and MOHAMMAD WILL HELP TO FREE HUMANITY FROM THEIR WRONG DOING'S. On Election Day, you should all proclaiming your loyalty to Muhammad. Allah O Akbur.
Yes,the followers of Islam are doing a FINE job helping the world,Fine job.
Why is religion a discussion when it comes to government and politics ? Are you christian ? Jewish ? Mormon ? Muslim ? Well i for one am an American and that means i dont use religion to make my political decision. Americans have given their lives to give us freedom. And yet we still use religion to make decisions for our country. Your religion is not mine
But you do love those floating question marks, don't you?
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I rather have the Norman than the Muslim any freaking day.
And such is the optimism of democracy that it assumes we'll be able to find at least one sane person to cancel out your vote.
This posting has degraded into the typical banter of trolls. I will explain why I don't believe. I have no reason to do so. I use the word reason because it is key to how I think... With reason. What I've found is in many a case the cause for belief is an emotion usually fear. Fear of death, fear of the unknown, and a fear of Hell. Then there is desire. A desire to live forever, to be rewarded, to know peace. As nice as those feelings are they are still feelings or emotions. I use reason to guide me, knowledge... Not emotional knowledge like the claim to know there is a god... Which is a lie what they mean is they really, really, really believe there is a god and they feel it but they have no actual knowledge of a god just a feeling a strong one but a feeling none the less. Since I have no fear... No desire, nor need for a god, and i already know peace. I can ask myself what is there to actually prove there is such, and I find none... Not a scrap.
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May the God you don't believe in open your eyes to see the true realities. I will be praying for you Jim.
I will probably regret asking, but what are, "true realities" ?
Congratulations on managing to simultaneously be absurdly pedantic and helplessly obtuse. This kind of juvenile intellectual bankruptcy is why the overwhelming majority of the population find Atheists to be epic delta bravos.
Observer1. So you feel that by personal beliefs or thoughts as my case is should be governed by majority opinion? I find myself when you take a group of reasonably intelligent folk and put them into a group as a rule their individual intelligences tend to suffer. I call it the mass effect;). Finally you offered me no reason to think there is a god... Why is that? Could it be you have none but could only offer me emotions as your rational?
Prayer changes things .
You have nothing of importance to anyone to say.
It's good to see that your attendants have found a way to keep you occupied every Sunday.
I would have said "mindlessly occupied" if it weren't so obviously redundant.
The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is more than seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500). Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics. In fact, while just 7% of active-faith adults failed to contribute any personal funds in 2006, that compares with 22% among the no-faith adults
A comprehensive study by Harvard University professor Robert Putnam found that religious people are more charitable than their irreligious counterparts] The study revealed that forty percent of worship service attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly as opposed to 15% of Americans who never attend services. Moreover, religious individuals are more likely than non-religious individuals to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%).
iit may be so.. but praying that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer doesn't seem the right prayer for children..
You make a rather bold statement but offer nothing in terms of proof. So is this yet another un proven feeling on your part?
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.