By Bishop Douglas Fisher
Posted Oct 19, 2018 at 12:04 PM
Updated Oct 20, 2018 at 5:52 AM
What do you think is the most important line in the Bible?
Some theologians say the most important verse in the entire Bible is Luke 3:1. Here it is. “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”
That is the most important line in the entire Bible because it tells us that our faith is not a fairy tale. It is not an abstraction. It is not “once upon a time.” It is not “in a galaxy far, far away.” No! In this time and in this place, when these people held power, the word of God came to Zechariah’s son and the place was the wilderness.
In those days, the people did not get to decide who their rulers were. That was decided by wealthy families in Rome. But we are blessed to live in a democracy. We get to decide the kind of leadership we want. We get to have our voices heard on the issues of our day. We have that opportunity in just a few more days — Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Michael Curry is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Many of you know him as the preacher at the royal wedding. Some of you know he will be preaching in Pittsfield and Worcester tomorrow. Did you know that a few days after the royal wedding, he participated in a vigil outside the White House? Did you know that Michael Curry is one of the authors of a document called “Reclaiming Jesus” — a document that begins with this statement: “We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest level of our government and our churches. We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.”
Michael Curry says this: “We are blessed as a nation to vote. As citizens of this country this is a right, an obligation, and a duty. Go vote. Vote your conscience. Your conscience informed by what it means to love your neighbor, to participate in the process of seeking the common good, to participate in the process of making this a better world. However you vote, go and vote. And do that as followers of Jesus.”
My friend and colleague, Rabbi Mark Shapiro of Springfield, draws on another source written about the same time as the Gospel of Luke. That text urges Jews to pray for the welfare of the government, which is to say it advises people to be engaged in the political process. “Go vote,” says Shapiro. “It’s what religious duty requires.” Jewish, Christian, Muslim — all people of faith are heading to the polls on Nov. 6 because it is our responsibility as citizens of this nation.
God spoke to John in the wilderness 2000 years ago. God is still with us, still speaking in the wilderness of 2018. May we all listen and bring what we hear to the holy obligation of voting. May we all vote faithfully and bring what is of utmost value with us as we exercise this precious privilege. May we seek the leadership we need to be a nation that truly is a shining light in a world so in need of hope.