If you have turned on the TV for even 5 minutes this past week, it would be almost impossible to overlook that Tuesday is election day. Regardless of which is your favored candidate, and regardless of which is elected to be the next president of these United States, that day will signal the end of one of the most acrimonious election cycles within recent memory. To be sure, it will mark an end to this present acrimonious election cycle; without a doubt it will not put an end to the widespread and painful divisions of our nation.
Regardless of who is elected, those divisions will still exist; for while the outcome of this election will settle who will be in the White House for the next four years; while it might settle who will control Congress; it is not a magic wand that will cause the major issues of our day to be settled.
Poverty, racial injustice, issues about access to health care, the issues of jobs and what to do with immigrants will all still be before us.
These will not go away simply because we have voted.
What have elections, All Saints’ and Stewardship have in common? Probably most of us would say, “not much.”
Maybe there are those among us who just don’t settle for such an answer, because we have found it singularly unsettling to compartmentalize areas of our lives. We look instead for that which integrates those separate strands and threads of life.
What seems to be the unifying theme is vision.
We vote for whom we do based on vision, selecting that candidate whose vision best articulates our own.
The great Saints (those with a capital S) were those who had vision also. Their vision was transcendent, based not so much on things of earth but on the hope and expectation of the coming of the kingdom of God.
Stewardship as a theme also invites us to a vision, in which the secular and the sacred meet. It is where the practical vision and the transcendent vision meet. We provide for God’s house as a means of providing for the time and place for the proclamation of God’s vision, which is one of hope.
I like to call the version of the Beatitudes that we have heard in this morning’s Gospel, “Beatitudes with a twist.” They are not the bucolic, pastorally benign sayings that we usually associate as the Beatitudes. More familiar is the version is found in Saint Matthew.
But there is an edge to those in Saint Luke, where the beatitudes contain a series of warnings. These are generally called The Woes:
6:24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
6:25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
6:26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets”
The effect to these Beatitudes with a twist is that they jar us where we have become complacent.
Falling into complacency is always a danger in the spiritual life. It is good that we hear them from time to time; that they call us into a renewed sense of our vision. They help to keep us from becoming too smug, too self-contented, and too complacent.
This week reminds us of many things. But chiefly it reminds us about the importance of vision in human life, both corporately and individually.
“For without vision,” as Proverbs would remind us, “the people perish.”
Where we become complacent about democracy, it perishes; where we become complacent about faith, it dies; where stewardship languishes, so does the mission of God and the kingdom.
What is your vison?
Where is your gaze fixed?