The Track 2 Old Testament lesson, the Track 2 Psalm, and the New Testament lesson for Sunday seem to be tied together thematically. Or at least they seem to be related in this heightened political season in the US. So much of the rhetoric around the American Presidential election has to do with caring for the poor. The right suggests that the best way to care for the poor is to invest in businesses so they can hire more employees, pay them better wages, and lift them out of poverty. This is a good theory, and certainly there are many business owners who do their best to take care of their employees, but it seems that even in the days of Amos, it didn’t always work. For as long as there have been humans, there have been those who “trample the poor” and “sell the sweepings of wheat.” To them, the word is clear, “God will not forget how you treat the poor.
On the other hand, the left suggests the best way to care for the poor is to create safety nets that keep them from falling through the cracks. This has its merits as well, and the latter half of the Psalm for Sunday seems to indicate that it is the will of God that we care for the poor through charity. “[God] takes up the weak out of the dust * and lifts up the poor from the ashes. He sets them with the princes, * with the princes of his people.” Though as we have seen in this country, when the responsibility for safety nets left the confines of the Church and became the government’s responsibility during the Great Depression, it became susceptible to fraud and pork spending. Who indeed is like the Lord who sits enthroned on high, but stoops to behold the earth?.
The battle lines having been drawn between right and left, the American public has been convinced that we exist in a zero sum game. One side agrees that to invest in business means to leave the poor to fend for themselves. The other says that to offer safety nets creates a culture of laziness that kills the economy. Both are, of course, wrong.
So what are we to do? We who live in this world of competing goods, how can we ensure that somewhere in the midst of all the rancor and wrangling, we are living up to the call of Jesus to care for the poor, the widows, the orphans, the oppressed, and those in prison? Aside from revamping the US tax code to return to the Church these responsibilities, our task is, as Paul tells Timothy, to pray that our leaders make wise decisions and live lives of godliness and dignity. Thankfully, the Book of Common Prayer has all sorts of prayers to help with such praying. Here’s but one example, a Collect for the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority.
O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
Pray for your leaders today, and everyday, for it is right and acceptable to God.