Standing in the midst of the recent political convention in San Francisco, one observer of the tumult was struck by the contrast between that crowd and the assurance of Christ Jesus: ''If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.'' n1
n1 Matthew 18:19,20.
This is a season of political gatherings - in the United States, and also elsewhere in the world. Great numbers of people, voices, and words confront nominations and elections, platforms and promises. They rally voters in behalf of the present and future of government. And yet it is imperative to know that the presence of divine wisdom ultimately and sufficiently governs the universe, including man.
Even though there may be at present relatively few voters, politicians, and journalists who are supporting governments and nations through prayer, we can remember the early Christian experience. The New Testament repeatedly relates spiritual value, and even power, to modest numbers and individual inspiration. The Master himself had but a handful of followers to do the works of God, his Father. Though they were often surrounded by multitudes who were far more influenced by ritualistic mentalities, Jesus and his disciples spread the gospel of love and accomplished many healings, all in the name of the Lord. And in his overriding modesty he pointed out again and again that the works were not of his own doing but of the Father's. ''My Father,'' he said, ''worketh hitherto, and I work.'' n2
n2 John 5:17.
We'll all be expected to examine the issues of American politics this year. And we'll be asked to judge the candidates. Polls will tell us that opinion is shifting this way and that. We'll be urged to get on one bandwagon here, another there; to commit to this party or that one. And those choices will be important in terms of citizen support of government. However, even when crowds push and manipulate, and speakers seem assertive, there is a recourse to prayer - quiet communion with God - that preserves a mental retreat free from confusion.
Through prayer - whether undertaken in the midst of a convention, or in a gathering of friends or colleagues, or in the privacy of the voting booth - it is possible to keep faith with God as guarantor of man's right to self-government and spiritual dominion. It is possible to discern the actual, spiritual nature of being, in which man is God's perfect likeness, always under the wise and loving jurisdiction of his creator.
This writer's profession has often placed him in the midst of crowds, riots, rallies, parades, protests, raucous meetings, teeming conventions. Sometimes many viewpoints have been in conflict. The only way to secure a steady vantage point for the job to be done has been prayer. And no other thought has proved so invulnerable and uplifting as those words of Jesus ''My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.''
A prayer that Mary Baker Eddy n3 includes in the Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, has been a persuasive reminder of God's presence in the midst of clamor. It reads: '' 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!'' n4
n3 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Scince.
n4 Man., Art. VIII,Sect.4.
As the 1984 campaigns evolve, a focus steadied by prayer, by the consciousness of God's governing power, will bring strength to institutions of the democratic process. An election year is a fitting time for prayerful people to trust that resource. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel;... in quietnes and in confidence hall be your strength.... And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:15, 21