Benedictions and political conventions

Imagine my surprise when I posted a link on my Facebook wall to Jena Lee Nardella’s well-spoken benediction at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night and found that not every Christian would be as happy as me about the occasion. I really thought the Christian community had moved past the believing-God-is-a-Republican stage by now. I was wrong.

My personal political motto is inspired by one of America’s founders, John Adams (or at least from his curmudgeonly portrayal by Paul Giamatti in the HBO mini-series): “I have no talent for politics.” For myself, I do my best to enter the voting booth with a sound mind and a clear conscience, but I am far more confident in my role as a Christian in this world than a voter.

With that in mind, here are five reasons why I believe Nardella behaved like a beautiful Christian when she offered her prayer at the Democratic National Convention:

1. She prayed for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as husbands, fathers and leaders.

If we do nothing else as Christians and as citizens of the United States, shouldn’t we pray for all of our governmental leaders?

2. She prayed as part of a Kingdom not made up of red states and blue states.

Her words act as a pledge for our true allegiance as Christians. As followers of Christ and citizens of a heavenly kingdom, we cannot be separated from the love of God and cannot be separated as brothers and sisters in Christ. In her prayer, Nardella included a request for help “for those of us meeting here and for our fellow citizens who met last week,” referring to the Republican National Convention.

3. She acknowledged on our behalf our tendency toward sin and away from goodness in the political arena.

A well-formed prayer like the one our Lord taught us includes confession. Nardella stood on our behalf and made this confession: “We know our human tendencies toward finger-pointing and frivolousness.”

4. She thanked God for the work of Christ.

All religions include prayer and meditation of some sort. A variety of leaders from many different religions were invited to pray at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. What makes Nardella’s prayer “Christian” is its foundation on Jesus, the Christ. And not in name only (which is certainly powerful) but in His saving work of grace for all people.

5. She reminded us that we are blessed in order to be a blessing to all the world.

How can we not hear the words of our true King, Jesus, echoed in Nardella’s supplication: “And give us wisdom, God, to discover honest solutions, for we know it will take all of us to care for the widow and the orphan, the sick and the lonely, the downtrodden and the unemployed, the prisoner and the homeless, the stranger and the enemy, the thirsty and the powerless.”

Thank you, Ms. Nardella, for embodying the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “The church ... is not the master or servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.”

Thank you, Ms. Nardella, for praying like a Christian.

What Do You Think?

  • Did you hear Nardella’s benediction? What did you make of it?
  • Do you vote as a Christian first or as a member of a political party?


Comments (4)

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I am sorry, Tamara, that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ responded negatively to your post. There is, unfortunately, still a large segment of the evangelical world that equates Christianity with Republican. (Certainly the official Democratic position on abortion is not helpful in this regard). And they likewise regard believers who appear at official Democratic functions as traitors. But I like you rejoice to hear God-honoring voices wherever they are heard, reminding us that our primary allegiance is to God, not country (or party). My wish for red state Christians is that they would see Democrats as fellow humans with a different point of view, rather than as the enemy.

I think the points you make about the content of her benediction are good and valid, and are an example of, as you said, “praying like a Christian.”

Personally, I vote as a Christian first rather than a member of a political party.  It’s becoming harder and harder, however, to choose between “lesser evils.”  In some elections (people forget about the elections other than president sometimes), I find it hard to vote for any candidate “as a Christian.” 

With that said, I think your opening paragraph is a little short-sighted.  You said you “found that not every Christian would be as happy as me about the occasion. I really thought the Christian community had moved past the believing-God-is-a-Republican stage by now.”  I imagine a large number of the responses you received on your Facebook page have a lot to do with the fact that just days prior, the entire Democratic convention loudly declared “No” to including the word “God” in their platform. 

I don’t think that justifies any response that would minimize the benediction, or somehow suggest that the benediction itself was “unChristian.”  But there is some rationale for “questioning” the Christian stance of the Democrat party as a whole.  They clearly do not have a consensus about whether “God” should be recognized.

Tamara, I was blown away by the prayer!  This was my first time watching it (just now) and I am glad I did.  I was completely impressed by the sincerity and depth of Nardella’s prayer. 

After the “God in the platform” hubbub, I was not expecting much when I clicked on the link.  However, I was totally caught by surprise at what I heard.

Thank you for sharing this link!  Thank you also for sharing your thoughts and astutely summarizing the highlights of her words.  Like you, I am a Christ-follower first and then a voter.  I am not sure of the other negative comments, but I support your post!

Thanks for standing up!

“I really thought the Christian community had moved past the believing-God-is-a-Republican stage by now.” There’s a huge part of the Church in America that has never entered that stage, Tamara. You’re hearing from some who think one way, but a large portion of American believers think another.

For me, I see voting as an act of worship just as with other decisions I make. I may not always worship well with how I make those decisions, but I try to.


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