Rise & Shine - December 9
Servanthood: Christ's Way of Leadership
The Rise and Shine discussion group meets Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Adults from the 8:00 & 10:00 services gather for discussions that are relevant to their lives through the lens of a current topic and scriptural references. This week's discussion outline can be read or downloaded below.
Rise & Shine, December 4th
WE BELIEVE that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles (the world) lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26). We believe our elected officials are called to public service, not public tyranny, so we must protect the limits, checks, and balances of democracy and encourage humility and civility on the part of elected officials. We support democracy, not because we believe in human perfection, but because we do not. The authority of government is instituted by God to order an unredeemed society for the sake of justice and peace, but ultimate authority belongs only to God.
THEREFORE, WE REJECT any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. We believe authoritarian political leadership is a theological danger that threatens democracy and the common good—and we will resist it. Disrespect for the rule of law, not recognizing the equal importance of our three branches of government, and replacing civility with dehumanizing hostility toward opponents are of great concern to us. Neglecting the ethic of public service and accountability, in favor of personal recognition and gain often characterized by offensive arrogance, are not just political issues for us. They raise deeper concerns about political idolatry, accompanied by false and unconstitutional notions of authority.
In the News
George H.W. Bush Saluted at Capitol with Tributes to His Service and Decency
President from 1989 to 1993, George H.W. Bush died Friday at age 94. In an invocation opening Monday evening's ceremony, the U.S. House chaplain, the Rev. Patrick J Conroy, praised Bush's commitment to public service, from Navy pilot to congressman, U.N. ambassador, envoy to China and then CIA director before being elected vice president and then president.
Political combatants set aside their fights to honor a Republican who led in a less toxic era and at times found commonality with Democrats despite sharp policy disagreements. Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, past and incoming House speaker, exchanged a warm hug with George W. Bush and came away dabbing her face. Bush himself seemed to be holding back tears. "Here lies a great man," said Rep. Paul Ryan, the House speaker, and "a gentle soul. ... His legacy is grace perfected." Vice President Mike Pence and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell also spoke.
Shot down as a Navy pilot in WWII, he didn’t like to talk about the experience. Even when it would have helped him politically, as when he was running against an Arkansas governor who had assiduously avoided the draft, or when elite journalists described him as a “wimp.” Bush told his speechwriters to leave out the details of his own war stories, partly because he didn’t want to seem boastful, but mostly because he didn’t want to cry. Bush was surely a good man before he enlisted, but he spent the rest of his life as if he were trying to earn the sacrifice others made.
President Bush used the hard-earned lessons of war in his Presidency in several ways. He was keenly aware of the grave responsibility of sending young men and women into combat, having faced it. He understood both the primal fear that comes with combat operations, and the deep costs it imposes on the families and loved ones left behind. When he faced the biggest decision of his Presidency — the first Gulf War — he knew what he was asking of the troops because he had given it himself. He said, “I can tell you this: If I’m ever in a position to call the shots, I’m not going to rush to send somebody else’s kids into a war.”
Finally, that time in combat gave him a perspective that carried him forward through a demanding and complex life on a relatively even keel. He was able to not sweat the small stuff, and didn’t manifest a violent temper. Solving a spat with Congress or dealing with a business reversal just didn’t look quite as high stakes after you’ve watched your plane smash into the Pacific Ocean, floated on a raft and seen a submarine surface in front of you to save your life. Good humor, graciousness, kindness to others and balance became the hallmarks of his long life.
Bush viewed the presidency primarily as an august managerial position in a system where leaders inspire by example, not by rhetoric. “No president, no government can teach us to remember what is best in what we are,” Bush declared in his inaugural address. His job was to encourage Americans to be their best selves in service to each other, and to lead by example.
One of Bush's major achievements was assembling the international military coalition that liberated the tiny, oil-rich nation of Kuwait from invading neighbor Iraq in 1991. The war lasted just 100 hours. He also presided over the end of the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union.
He was denied a second term by Arkansas Gov. Clinton, who would later become a close friend. The pair worked together to raise tens of millions of dollars for victims of a 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and of Hurricane Katrina, which swamped New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005.
The crowd at the late President’s service in the capitol showed his broad appeal. Whatever their numbers, the mourners came from across the nation, some with specific memories of a president who had somehow touched their lives, some too young to remember his four years in office yet still committed to the idea that a president must be honored, no matter his politics.They came because he was the last president to serve in World War II, or because he made the Americans With Disabilities Act the law of the land, or because they admired how he and his wife, Barbara, showed their love for each other. Or they came because Bush was as different from Donald Trump as they could imagine a president might be.
Many interviewed mentioned a regard for how George H.W. Bush seemed to always seek to find the middle way in his politics… a familiar idea from a fellow Episcopalian.
More on this story can be found at these links:
George H.W. Bush saluted at Capitol with tributes to his service and decencyAssociated Press
Bush 41 Led by ExampleThe National Review
At farewell to Bush, a yearning for decency, moderation and compromiseThe Washington Post
Prayer attributed to St. Francis (BCP p.833)
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is
hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where
there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where
there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is
in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life. Amen.