Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king [Solomon]. He was one of Solomon’s officials, an Ephraimite from Zeredah, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah. – 1 Kings 11:26 (NIV)
An early memory. I am standing with my mother in a floor-wax-scented curtained booth in the meeting room of some town hall or other. When I bend down to peek, I can see a row of other voters’ shoes in their own little booths. First, Mom quietly describes who she is voting for and why, then she firmly marks the ballot and exits the booth, sliding the ballot in a slotted box on the way out. The hushed voices, the shiny floors, and the sense of purpose made me feel—although I didn’t have a word for it then—reverent.
Every now and then, someone will say that God’s people should not be “political,” and I never understand this. God’s people have been all about politics since, well, since the beginning of God’s people. Today’s passage opens the story of a cabinet member attempting to overthrow a king, which could be the basis for any political thriller with self-imposed exile, a murder attempt, and a prophet on a lonely road who dramatically rips his new cloak into twelve pieces. From Jeroboam’s rebellion against Solomon to Jesus’ confrontation with Pilate, our faith story is a political one.
Politics is not our salvation, but our faith story reminds us again and again that God’s people are part of the world, including the world of elections and kings, cabinet members and rebellions. In this election year, let us be emboldened to continue the legacy that our great-great-grandparents in faith began.
Holy One, send us to the voting booth when the time comes, because we are a political people. Amen.
Rev. Jennifer Garrison (formerly Brownell) is a writer, spiritual director and pastor living in the Pacific Northwest. Her published work most recently appeared in the book The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.