For the week of May 17, 2008 / 12 Iyar 5768
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 25:1 - 26:2
Haftarah: Jeremiah 32:6-27
A Great Way To Start the Day
If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. (Vayikra / Leviticus 25:35-38; ESV)
This past week I sent an email to my provincial Premier. I do that sort of thing every now and then. I write letters to my provincial and federal representatives as well as to the editor of this or that newspaper. I am told it makes a difference. I do believe it makes a difference. I think I may still do it whether or not it makes a difference, since I believe God wants us to speak out. While it is a good idea to be strategic in how we deal with societal matters, we can get so hung up on strategy that we fail to speak out.
The issue I wrote to our Premier about is one that, according to news sources, thousands of people are writing him about to the point that the government server recently crashed. At this point, he is refusing to listen. He thinks that the issue is such that it is his responsibility as leader to take this issue in a direction opposite to that of so many citizens.
The issue? The opening of the legislature's daily proceedings with the Lord's Prayer. Currently there is a committee studying alternatives to this tradition.
I think dropping, altering, or adding to the Lord's Prayer is a bad idea.
Some years ago, I don't think I would have written to the Premier on this. I don't think I would have commented on the issue at all. The Lord's Prayer is the prayer the Messiah taught to his disciples. It was not intended for the halls of government. It is for the hearts and lips of believers. However good it may be in and of itself, should we condone what appears to amount to meaningless traditions?
Obviously I feel differently today or else I wouldn't have written my letter of protest (polite and respectful protest, of course).
My hearing about the Premier's refusal to listen to his constituents (not only the thousands of unknown citizens, by the way, but apparently his own mother is quite displeased about his stand), has coincided with my giving further thought to the demise of Western Civilization - something that I am convinced has already happened to a large extent. Few people are willing to accept that the Western nations' rejection of their historical and cultural roots are leading us to the brink of destruction. These roots, which are derived from the Bible, have been the driving force of most of the good we have enjoyed in recent history.
Did you notice what the excerpt that I read from the Torah said? It speaks about how God commanded Israel to care for the poor. It is directives such as these that have lead the cultures of Europe and the Americas to care for the needy, the poor, and the sick. The Bible teaches us to take responsibility for the less fortunate among us. To cut our society free from its traditional roots undermines it completely. For our leaders to treat the Lord's Prayer with contempt shows a complete lack of understanding for the foundation it represents.
The reciting of the Lord's Prayer is a reminder to our governmental leaders that our society has roots in the God of Israel and his Word. The regular reading of the Messiah's model prayer is an encouragement to our leaders and to the society at large to take note of his reality and of his availability to all of us.
For some the exclusive use of such a prayer no longer fits in a pluralistic society such as ours. But I wonder if those who have such a concern have ever read it. I mean have really read it. I know that it is a prayer that is associated with traditional Christianity and all its trappings, but actually it is a prayer with deep Judaic roots that emphasizes that the God of Israel is the Father of all who call upon him. It is a prayer of humility, of reliance, of forgiveness, of protection, and deliverance. I can't think of anything better with which to start the day.
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