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     Sermon: “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the sermon on the mount.” General Omar N. Bradley

The title of the Sunday sermon looked like trouble, for sure.

“Would Jesus be a Democrat or Republican?”

In today’s supercharged political atmosphere, didn’t the pastor at least wonder if he was rushing in where wise men feared to tread?

When I later asked Pastor Greg that question, he acknowledged that the topic was risky, even for a man of the cloth. But he decided it was worth it.

“We’re tearing ourselves apart in this country,” he said. “People can come to different points of view. God doesn’t require that we all come to the same understanding or conclusion on everything.”

As is customary, the sermon was connected to that day’s scripture reading, Matthew 11:16-19 and Matthew 22:15-22.

In Matthew 11, Jesus condemns his generation for not listening to John the Baptist or to Jesus himself. In effect, the people of that day – and they were composed of many factions, just like today – ignored the messages that would make them better human beings and consequently improve the world.

In Matthew 22, another example of political factions presents itself in the form of Herodians and Pharisees. When they attempted to trap Jesus with a question about taxation, Jesus responds with one of the most famous quotes in the Bible: “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

While the quote at first glance seems to indicate that the emperor’s power rivals that of God, Pastor Greg reasoned that even though Caesar has the power to tax, that power is conferred on him by God, and that nothing is actually beyond an all-powerful God.

Religion and politics tend to intersect quite often; names of the factions change but they continue to exist. Pastor Greg’s point was that “we who claim to be Christians must be part of the solution and not exacerbate the problem.

“Yes, be passionate but with civility,” he said.

Who wouldn’t agree? Given the hateful, vituperative speech used these days by various factions and political parties of all stripes, is it any wonder that political polarization is at an all-time high? How can civility be restored?

Perhaps one pulpit and one sermon at a time.

Oh yes, about the key question of the sermon:

“Would Jesus be a Democrat or Republican?”

Not surprisingly, the answer from the pulpit was, “Neither,” because neither party has a corner on conduct, caring, fairness or love.

Aug. 22, 2018