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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This is the day that the Lord has made!

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Or as my late father, Skevos ("Steve") Zembillas, used to say (generally, when the stock market went up), "Wow! Isn't it wonderful to be alive today?"

I know I'm taking a risk of alienating or angering or confusing or scandalizing some of my readers, those who identify the Democratic Party with an ungodly, anti-family agenda, and who imagine the Republicans are the Children of Light, but I really can't contain myself today. No party's agenda is identical with God's plan for humanity. That plan is embodied in the Church, the Body of Christ. The Body Politic is another body altogether. The only way the one can approximate the other is if the goal of government were to fulfill the law of Christ, which is to "bear one another's burdens" (Gal 6:2). "Have you seen your neighbor?" asks one of the Desert Fathers of the Church, and continues, "You have seen your God." Blasphemy? Reread St John's 1st Epistle.

The goal of government ought not to be to protect us from one another, to teach us to treat the other as competition or nuisance or threat, but to help us to help one another. I will always remember my shock when I walked into Boston's Old North Church for the first time several years ago, the church from whose steeple Paul Revere watched for the signal light. I wasn't struck so much by the starkness of the interior, the walls bare of any sort of decoration, as I was by the cubicles. Families or individuals would own their own space, surrounded on all sides by white wooden walls six feet high. The only thing visible from within the blinders of the family cubicle was the pulpit, from which the preacher would deliver God's word not to the People of God, but to godly persons. How different from the message conveyed by the great Orthodox worship spaces, such as the paradigmatic Haghia Sophia, the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God. There, people of all ages and all walks of life gather in a wide, uncluttered space, everyone embraced from above by a dome in which is depicted the Creator God, the Father of all, the Loving Judge, who has told us through His Son that we will be judged on the basis of how we treat others, the least significant, the strangers, and not on how little we managed to disturb them. (How ironic, that the people for whom Darwinism is anathema should in their politics reveal themselves to be Social Darwinists.)

Do I expect miracles from the President-Elect? Am I confusing the man with the Messiah? Of course not. But neither is he the Antichrist, as some of his opponents would have you believe. Americans did a good thing yesterday, an inspired thing. They didn't voice their opinion, they shouted it. A new day has dawned, a day that the Lord has most emphatically made. Are you as delighted as I am? Send up thanks to the Lord our God! Are you for any reason unhappy? Pray to the same God for our President-Elect's enlightenment.

[On a personal note, last night was a surreal experience. Two Italian networks were reporting election results all night long, showing scenes from American television. Whenever an American spoke, I had to strain to listen for the English under the simultaneous translation into Italian. On one of the programs, a group of Italian-American university students were in the studio, offering commentary and opinions. I was surprised at their fluency! (I can't speak for the accuracy of their Italian, but they sure spoke it quickly!)]

8 comments:

Agape said...

I am no liberal democrat but I am thrilled for the history making moment and appreciate all that that means. Let us just see know what happens...it should be an interesting ride.

"No party's agenda is identical with God's plan for humanity. That plan is embodied in the Church, the Body of Christ. The Body Politic is another body altogether."

"The goal of government ought not to be to protect us from one another, to teach us to treat the other as competition or nuisance or threat, but to help us to help one another. I will always remember my shock when I walked into Boston's Old North Church for the first time several years ago, the church from whose steeple Paul Revere watched for the signal light. I wasn't struck so much by the starkness of the interior, the walls bare of any sort of decoration, as I was by the cubicles. Families or individuals would own their own space, surrounded on all sides by white wooden walls six feet high. The only thing visible from within the blinders of the family cubicle was the pulpit, from which the preacher would deliver God's word not to the People of God, but to godly persons. How different from the message conveyed by the great Orthodox worship spaces, such as the paradigmatic Haghia Sophia, the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God. There, people of all ages and all walks of life gather in a wide, uncluttered space, everyone embraced from above by a dome in which is depicted the Creator God, the Father of all, the Loving Judge, who has told us through His Son that we will be judged on the basis of how we treat others, the least significant, the strangers, and not on how little we managed to disturb them. (How ironic, that the people for whom Darwinism is anathema should in their politics reveal themselves to be Social Darwinists.)"

Walt Trachim said...

Inspired words indeed!

The message the Nation sent to our Government was hopefully received loud and clear. Now let us hope and pray that those who will be our leaders will know what to do with it.

Jacob Pardes said...

Hi Mick (Boston days!),

Whether Obama brings about significant change or not, and he's got some difficult days ahead, we in Europe rejoiced at the end of 'W's' regime.

In France people were hugging US tourists! In London, my home town, we were overjoyed. This is the USA of Dr King that I so admired years ago. A reborn USA. America we salute you! Let's move forward together in the cause of peace, and food, education, and housing for everyone.

I miss those lazy days at Oxford, Canterbury Road, Jacob (father of Benjamin), Pardes (use your Hebrew!), oh, and Elizabeth says hello!

Nikolia said...

Your Grace,

Your blessing! I pray you are doing well.

You wrote, "The goal of government ought not to be to protect us from one another, to teach us to treat the other as competition or nuisance or threat, but to help us to help one another."

I beg to respectfully disagree with you. I believe the government's job is to protect its citizens and the CHURCH's (read: members of the Church) job is to help others. Otherwise, we, as Christians, shift the responsibility of ministering to God's children off our shoulders and onto the government's.

Also, do we actually need the government's help to help others? Is it not the responsibility of each individual help his neighbor? Christ tells us we are judged on our individual actions, and I would venture to say probably not on how much we enabled the government to do what we should have been doing all along.

These are just my thoughts on that particular note. Forgive me and pray for me!

nixatron said...

With all due respect etc., what Nikolia said.

Ανδρέας said...

Most Reverend*,

I surely agree with your saying that "The goal of government ought not to be to protect us from one another, to teach us to treat the other as competition or nuisance or threat, but to help us to help one another."

As Apostle Paul puts it in Romans 13.4, the ruler is "a deacon of God towards what is virtuous".

I really wish that the new President will be beneficial to the American people. I also see in a very positive light the hope his election brought throughout the world.

As for the extreme reactions by both sides, I think it would be helpful to keep in mind that we shouldn't conflate the Kingdom of God with the kingdoms of men. The rich and the powerful seem rather deaf to Christ's message, at least as history showed.

Thank you for your enthusiasm.

Andrew

*I hope that's a good translation of "Sevasmiotate".

Steven said...

I don't fit neatly into any American political category. On questions of social and economic justice, I am well to the left of the American center. On questions of culture and public morality, however, I am a traditionalist who rejects relativism and radical individualism in favor of a communitarian vision of public life. I am against abortion, for instance, and adamantly against redefining marriage to include homosexuality or any other perversion of our God-given sexuality.

So, the election of Barack Obama is a mixed bag, in my view. I will certainly be praying for our new president and our new congress and hope they can find a way to fix some of our pressing problems. But to suggest, as Your Grace does here, that this election is somehow Providential is as silly as those who pretended that Bush's election was the hand of God at work. It was an election, and hopefully things will get better soon. But our hope is in Christ -- not George Bush and not in Barack Obama.

Haralambos said...

Thank God for your ministry Bishop Sava. You gave a level-headed and true analysis. I am a member of the GOA and I voted for Obama, and I am sick and tired of people equating the Republican Party with God's party. When you wrote "The Body Politic is another body altogether" you hit the nail on the head. I have found that the Greek Archdiocese has always followed the taditions of our church and the lead of God. A previous blogger wrote that the church should help others and not the government, however logistically and ecomnomically it would be impossible and I sense that that blogger wants the government to intervene with abortion and outlaw it but somehow keep the government out of helping the poor. People like him and many converts from the Evangelical and Protestant churces bring right wing politics with them. They essentially are trying to reduce the church to a political movement. That is why it is so refreshing to read your article, it is a balanced and God-inspired article. As Bishop Kallistos Ware told me, " “I have to say that I find the aggressive and authoritarian tone of ‘Orthodox dominionists’(read religious right) to be unattractive, and I believe that it will prove in the long term to be counter-productive."

Thank you for writing the article and may God grant you many years!