The Sound of Hope
I remember being high in the Cascade mountains once towards the end of October. I was staying in a marvelous little tower, perched atop a glorious ridge, that once functioned as a fire lookout, but now has become a shelter for hikers. While my friend lit his cigar to celebrate our arrival, I was awestruck by the sound of Canadian geese flying through the clouds below us, just as the sun was setting, painting the sky riotous colors. We could hear them, but not see them. Yet the sound was enough for us to know that they were flying north. These were GEESE - flying NORTH - at the beginning of WINTER. I'm no naturalist, but it just seemed odd, and the very oddness of it served to heighten my senses.
I was reminded of that when I read Obama's speech, given in an evangelical church in Orange county, California this past weekend. Yes, you read that correctly. Like the geese, the whole scene assaults the senses. A DEMOCRAT - speaking to EVANGELICALS - in ORANGE COUNTY. What's next? Perhaps St. Helens will begin to spontaneously rebuild itself, or maybe the Mariners will land a talented pitcher in the offseason. If Obama can speak to evangelicals anything can happen.
This should, no matter what side of the isle you sit on, bring you hope. I applaud Rick Warren for having the guts to stand against the avalanche of opposing voices and invite the man to speak. I applaud him, as well, for not moving an inch on the courage of his own conviction regarding matters with which he differs from the senator. Because of Rick's humility, and the wide platform God has given him to speak, I believe that he will lead the way in dismantling the wall that has unfairly held Christians hostage to one political party. "Are you left wing or right wing?" Warren is asked. His answer? "I'm for the whole bird."
It's about time. When Christians begin to vote their conscience, and allow that conscience to be sensitized to the entire spectrum of Christ's ethic, we will see that the choices aren't quite as easy as just looking for the elephant in the room, or even the donkey: Environment and sexuality; Life in the womb, and poverty and justice issues once the baby is born; Protection of our borders and protection of our personal liberties; Critique of Palestinian violence and Israeli violence. When the ethic of Jesus begins to encompass all these issues, it's more difficult to vote blindly - either way. That's why Warren also invited a Republican senator to speak.
When the church begins to stand outside of loyalty to any one party and critique both sides of the isle, it will be a good day for the church and for the broader. As I read Obama's speech, I could hear the sound of geese flying north. Something's stirring!