Inauguration Sunday?

January 20, 2013

President Barack Obama did not celebrate his inauguration today, even though January 20th is the day the U.S. Constitution sets as the start of his second term. This is not some "birther" conspiracy effort at play. Had Republican Mitt Romney won the presidential election, he also would not have enjoyed the inaugural festivities today. Instead, it represents government respecting religious traditions. Since the constitutionally-chosen presidential inauguration day falls on a Sunday this year, the inaugural festivities will be held on Monday (January 21). Governmental officials are following tradition and leaving the Sabbath day for churches. This will be the seventh time inaugural festivities were moved to avoid Sunday (the most recent being Ronald Reagan's second inaugural in 1985). Obama took the oath of office privately today, but will not celebrate his inauguration until tomorrow. It seems right that there was not "Inauguration Sunday." But I wonder if churches noticed this deference and made any effort to rise to the occasion.

After years of many religious and political leaders attempting to unite Christianity with a political party, we need to declare our independence. After a bitter election that pitted Christians against one another, we need to reassert our unity in Christ. On the eve of the presidential festivities, it seems important for Christians to remember that our leader was coronated, not inaugurated! It does not matter who is president, Christ is King! It does not matter who is in the Oval Office, Christ is still on the Throne! As I noted in a sermon nine days before the 2012 election, "it doesn't matter if Barack O'Caesar or Mitt Caesarney wins, God will still be on the throne." So tomorrow is Caesar's day because today is God's.

Over the past few years, there have been many prophetic voices calling on Christians in the United States to quit looking for salvation and hope in the ballot box or Washington, D.C. From the brilliant "Jesus for President " tour and book in 2008 to the powerful Election Day Communion effort last year, there have been many voices urging Christians to prophetically live out the provocative teachings of Jesus. These individuals have urged Christians to offer an independent moral witness instead of becoming part of the partisan political games. We need more of these ideas, more ways that the church can be the church. We need to build on these efforts because churches in the United States are still too partisan and polarized. Too often Christians are leading the way in slinging mud in campaigns and launching hateful comments about those who vote differently. Too often we add to the polarization and the division. Too often we are tempted by the siren calls of power. Too often we give to Caesar what is God's.

The body of Christ is being torn apart by partisan politics and ungodly quests for power. We need the church to be the church. We need a public witness that our faith and hope remains in God, not Washington. We need to come together to declare "Christ is King!" No matter what happens in Washington or elsewhere, Christ is King! No matter who rules our nation or other nations, Christ is King! He was not elected by the people and inaugurated. He was coronated. Christ is King!