by Andrew Stephens-Rennie
It’s campaign time here in Canada. Yesterday, on a frigid Saturday morning our Prime Minister got up in front of Rideau Hall to announce that we’re going to the polls on May 2nd. Within seconds, each of Canada’s major political parties took the gloves off and began 36 days of posturing, vying for the hearts and minds of the 40-some-odd-percent of Canadians who’ll make it to the polls.
How might we, as Christians, respond?
Back in June 2008 (leading up to the US Presidential election) Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw visited us in Toronto for the only Canadian stop on the Jesus for President tour, exploring the politics of Jesus in front of a packed house at Church of the Redeemer. They brought us back to the scriptures, to Jesus’ prophetic ministry, and our own call as Ekklesia, to be a people set apart and enacting God’s kingdom here on earth, as it is in heaven. Together we explored the scriptures, and some heavy hitting Christian theologians like Ched Myers, Dorothy Day, John Perkins, Marva Dawn, Oscar Romero, Sylvia Keesmaat and Walter Brueggemann who helped us to better understand the role of the church and individual Christians in the political arena.
It really bugs me that even though our faith calls us to embody an alternative community that participates in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – the very one who came to inaugurate God’s kingdom on earth – the best most of us can do around election time is suggest that we simply need to “be good citizens.” Does this amount to any more than reading some pamphlets, watching a debate or two, and showing up on voting day?
Have we no more imagination than that?
We worship the God revealed in Jesus whose subversive ministry called the religious and political establishment of his time into question. Good citizenship through a Jesus lens can’t possibly be limited to affirming our civic duty to vote – especially when we worship a saviour who was always playing games with those in places of authority.
With all this in mind, we’re going to dive headlong into this over the coming weeks. We’re going to pray hard, and we’re going to pray often that God re-awaken our political imaginations. We may even get up to some holy mischief (from sea to shining sea).
We hope you’ll join us.
I’m personally loving the fact that the majority of this campaign is taking place throughout the season of Lent. Lent, for many Christians world-wide is a time devoted to prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial. What could be better suited to an election machine rife with bravado, false promises, fundraising and self-aggrandizement?
As we wander through the Lenten wilderness toward Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Good Friday, how might we read what’s happening in this fair land through the lens of Jesus’ kingdom and cross?
As we journey together over the coming weeks, we’ll be asking all sorts of questions:
What would it mean if Jesus were Prime Minister?
What kind of leader would he be?
Do you think he’d even want the job?
Where might we meet him on the campaign trail?
I guess only time will tell.