“Be careful of politicians who would offer you things that are not theirs to give.” Father David Peck, Saint James Episcopal Church
On Sunday it was cold. It doesn’t get that cold very often around here, the kind of cold that hurts your skin after a few minutes and burns the lungs. The kind that leaves you whispering, as you walk to church from your car, “Come Lord Jesus…and bring spring along with you.” Sam danced along the top of the shallow snow bank shouting, “Look at me! I’m Legolas!” The seven of us glided through the heavy, wooden doors and found a pew.
This week’s reading was on the temptation of Christ.
Command these stones.
Bow and worship me.
Throw yourself down from here.
It’s a poignant image, that of Satan offering Jesus so much in return for so little. How much effort would it have taken Jesus to turn the stones to bread? He had been fasting for 40 days, and the relief was right there, in the dust in front of him. One rock. One loaf. So simple.
But sometimes the things within our grasp aren’t the things worth grabbing onto.
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One sentence from Father David’s sermon struck me more than any other. He weaved the temptations of Christ into our current lives, comparing the things Satan offered Jesus to the things these politicians offer us.
“Be careful,” he said, “of politicians who would offer you things that are not theirs to give.”
Yet this is what so many of us have fallen for, what so many of us swoon over. This candidate will do such and such. That candidate will not. This candidate will make my life better. That candidate will ruin us. Where does this falsely placed hope come from, especially among Christians?
Can we be honest and say that there is more than a little disappointment with this God of ours who so often does not heal the cancer, so often does not grant the promotion, so often seems to leave us wanting? So in our disappointment, unable to wait, we turn to human forms of power, living and breathing and speaking humanity, and the promises they make sound so good. So present. It’s right there, all that they say, within our grasp.
Dare I say that the level of happiness or anxiety we feel on the day after election day is a direct reflection of how much we are giving to Caesar what is not Caesar’s to have?