You See, That Wasn’t So Hard, Was It?
Shon Smith, preaching minister at the University Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, stood this past Sunday and delivered the goods on how a Christian, especially the white-bread, Southern evangelical Republican-voting version, can pray for President Obama and find common cause with him. In short, it’s a recipe for spitting out those “sour grapes” and just getting on with it.
The 1/25 sermon (h/t to Number One Son for passing it on) was entitled “A New Era” and can be found here. The whole 30+ minute sermon is worth listening to, but the meat (and it is that, not milk) on the why and how of praying for President Obama begins about 6 minutes in.
How refreshing to hear a preacher (with a group of elders presumably supporting him) man up and do the right thing. I lost count of the number of times our President was mentioned–out loud, by name.
You see, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Mike the Eyeguy
I think there are a couple of things going on here, but I could be wrong.
Firstly, churches typically shy away from this kind of true message because they are afraid of the reaction that it will cause in the ranks, especially among high contributors who–surprise!–usually vote Republican.
And secondly, many Christians, especially those from evangelical and fundamentalist tribes, are afraid that if they pray for President Obama rather than opposing him by whatever means necessary (you know, “contending for the truth” and all that), they might actually start softening a bit toward him and–Lord Almighty, Katy bar the door–they will then be called into account on the Last Day and be sent to to hell, because he is after all the Antichrist, or, at the very least, a close relative.
Like I said, I could be wrong, but I think I’m pretty close.
That was excellent, and delivered with conviction.
Either the guy is extremely secure in his faith to the point where he’s comfortable speaking truth to power, or he’s a closet Obama voter. (Or maybe both.)
Mike the Eyeguy
#1 definitely, #2 maybe, but moreover, in his case, I believe he actually has the power standing behind him saying, “This is the right thing to do, so go ahead.” I think his message was for the member in the pew who was still struggling with “sour grapes” and with the questions, “What do I do now?”
That makes all the difference in the world and is very atypical in large, evangelical churches. In many cases, the powers that be do not want such words uttered, and if they are, the utterer may suddenly find his job in danger.
That’s why it’s so important, in my mind, to highlight something encouraging like this; maybe others will see that it is possible to do the right thing and not have the world as we know it come to a screeching halt.
I have been reflecting on this since I listened and trying to remember if my liberal Seattle-area Methodist church ever prayed for Bush by name.
I’m not saying we never did, and I remember a LOT of prayers for “the leadership of our country,” but I’m having a hard time coming up with specific examples of Dubya prayers.
It goes both ways.
Mike the Eyeguy
It does, indeed.
And the old psych major in me can’t help but reflect on that. There is certainly nothing wrong or ineffectual about praying for “the leadership” in a generic way. But to use actual names, of course, makes it much more personal.
The names “Obama” and “Bush” are both stimuli which produce a particular conditioned response depending on where one lies on the political spectrum. When we say the name out loud, it may create in us a great deal of tension. This is a much more difficult prayer than the more generic ones for “the leadership” or “our enemies.”
And it is this tension–and the praying through it–that enables us to live out the spirit of the Gospel in the fullest way. I mentioned this in the first comment; it is difficult to pray for people by name and have our hearts remain hardened toward them.
Now pardon me while I go put together my enemy list and start praying over it. 🙂
Mike the Eyeguy
This is taking longer than I thought…
I have and will pray for our President. Always do, regardless of who sits in the office. But I still don’t like the fact that Obama is our president. Wouldn’t care for McCain, either. I’m awaiting a true statesman (or woman) to fill that seat, but I don’t think there are any, and if there are, I probably will not live long enough to see someone who is actually more interested in the good of the nation than in his or her own political agenda. Are those days forever gone? Were they ever a reality?
I pray for President Obama because I’m selfish. The decisions he makes for our Country affects me directly…and I’ve “been there done that.”
I didn’t give the ultimate sacrifice…my Comrades did. My family & friends still have me to enjoy. I know they are praying for President Obama.
May God grant President Obama the wisdom to make wise decisions. Every decision he makes affects each and every one of us one way or the other.
I have loved and apprecited Shon for many years now! Thanks for sharing this with us. We need more preachers like Shon!
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