Monday, May 14, 2007
The Next Mayor
Tomorrow thousands of Philadelphians will go to the polls to choose the democratic and republican candidates for mayor of our city for the next four years. Being an overwhelmingly democratic city the winner of the democratic primary will in all likelihood become the next mayor. The race has thus far centered on five candidates and as of the last couple of weeks focused on the top two, Michael Nutter a former city councilman and Tom Knox a businessman.
Whoever wins this election will face a daunting task. He will have to tackle the issues of violent crime, struggling schools, an ailing public transportation system, outdated tax code, and entrenched city corruption among others. More than that however the next mayor of the City of Brotherly Love will preside over an urban metropolis that is rapidly becoming two cities. One which is affluent, fairly safe, stable and welcoming while the other lags in poverty is extremely dangerous, precarious and foreboding.
Truly the next mayor will need our prayers. But what else do we the people of God have to offer our city? What part ought we play in the life of our city and region? More precisely, how involved should believers become in local politics? Are you involved in the local politics of your city or county? As the church do we maintain a strict divide between the City of God and the City of Man? Should our service to the city focus only on the word and sacrament? Can we become involved in politics without being reduced to a tool of one party or another or one candidate or another? Do pastors have a responsibility to speak up and speak out on local issues that affect the city? For example, should I voice my convictions regarding gun control seeing that it is a major factor in all of the plans to reduce violent crime in Philadelphia? Do I advocate for more funds for the public transportation system? Does part of my pastoral leadership involve alerting the congregation I serve to the city’s salient political issues along with telling them my convictions about them? Does part of our witness of God’s righteousness, justice and kingdom mean that we advocate good government as far as we can see it? What happens if I and a fellow pastor differ on an important issue? Once again what if one pastor strongly advocates for gun control legislation while another does not? Are we free to pursue our positions as private citizens but not as servants of the church? Is it wise to tie our convictions to Scripture and speak as though our position is God’s definitive will? How might it look to our community if the only time we become concerned with our local politics is when we wish to have zoning laws changed to build a bigger facility?
I really would appreciate your input as myself and other pastors seek to be faithful to our witness, our Lord, His word and His church. In any event please remember to pray for Philly, our next mayor and the witness of God’s church in this city.
The Lord’s Peace