The Federal Government of the United States of America shut down at midnight on Friday. It reopened yesterday, but may shut down again in February. Uncertainty and disorientation abound.
I lift my eyes up to the mountains.
At stake are protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients which are set to expire in March, the already expired Children’s Health Insurance Program, and funding for a wall to be built along the US border with Mexico.
Where does my help come from?
The NC Legislature has gathered for an unusual winter session. It was anticipated that they would focus on an order by the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina that the congressional lines be redrawn by January 24 based on the finding that the lines were subject to partisan gerrymandering. This order came in a case named Rucho, Robert A., et al., v. Common Cause, et al.
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
The Supreme Court granted a stay on the order by the District Court. The congressional districts no longer have to be redrawn by January 24, rather nothing has to happen while the case is appealed by those who do not want to redraw the congressional lines. Whether or not the congressional lines ever have to be redrawn will depend on the resolution of the case on appeal.
The Lord will not let your foot slip— the Lord who watches over you will not slumber;
Whether or not “partisan gerrymandering” is legal (or Constitutional) has not been decided by the Supreme Court. The argument that the lines have been gerrymandered in a partisan manner is technically different than the argument that the lines have been gerrymandered racially. This claim based on race is being made in a different case, North Carolina v. Covington, which involves legislative lines rather than congressional lines. Many Republican legislators in NC readily admit that lines have been drawn based on partisan advantage, but insist that race was not a factor. This matters because race is a protected class but party affiliation is not.
Indeed, the Lord who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
At stake is whether North Carolinians who cast their ballots get to choose their politicians, or whether the politicians get to choose who casts ballots in their districts.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
The Federal Government shut down. The North Carolina Legislature has gathered. The Supreme Court has granted a stay so that districts do not have to be redrawn. And the Legislature is now free to take up any number of causes, such as altering the way that judges are elected in NC.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
Americans have long made an idol of democracy, but idols have limited power. Should Christians disengage from politics and withdraw from the democratic process? No. Some have argued that we should. But we follow One who cared immensely about bodies that were hungry, broken, bleeding, female, and left for dead. We pray “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth.” And we gather freely to worship because we are given the right to do so by the Constitution. So withdrawing is a poor, and particularly careless, solution to the problem of idolizing democracy.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—and will watch over your life;
We engage. We bring our faith to the table as we engage with those whose faith is different from our own. We open ourselves to new understandings, we learn new things about justice, and privilege, and sorrow. We are gifted with hopes that we cannot imagine on our own. We live and move and have our very being within the promise that God sent Jesus not to condemn the world, but to redeem it. (John 3:17).
And we remember that the Federal Government can shut down. And the NC Legislature can fail us. And the Supreme Court can dash our hopes for immediate remedy. But the Lord, from whence our help comes, slumbers not nor sleeps. So we proceed, participating in the redemption of the world as we pray.
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121)