February 8, 2008

Twenty Something / Christina Capecchi

Amid noisy campaign, ‘make room’ for true agent of change

This presidential campaign, we’re being urged to not only vote, but to author change. We’re invited to enter into a great modern drama and to seize center stage.

As the candidates share their personal narratives, they are also telling our nation’s, recalling and rewriting history as they see fit. And they’re exhorting us to pick up the pen and write ourselves into the story—as the protagonist.

The invitation is compelling.

At the same time, a quieter voice is asking us to enter into a covenant, not a campaign.

“God seeks young people today,” Pope Benedict XVI told a group of young Italians last fall. “He seeks young people with great hearts who can make room for him in their lives to be protagonists of the new covenant.”

Jeremiah prophesized of a sanctified relationship, called a new covenant, that God would make with Israelites, noting that it would “not be like the covenant [the Lord] made with their fathers” (Jer 31:32). You know, not your father’s covenant.

Unlike campaign pleas, which come in sound bites crafted by speechwriters, the Lord writes this covenant directly on our hearts (Jer 31:33).

And unlike presidential cycles, which end abruptly after an intense courtship, the new covenant is unbroken. It’s called “unshakable,” a compliment no presidential campaign merits (Heb 12:28).

The candidates pretend to know us, mentioning past trips to our home states with a phony fondness. They reference small towns nearby, pointing north when the towns are south. God, on the other hand, has counted the hairs on our head. He knows the issues we vote on and the desires of our heart.

The candidates act accessible, but they won’t give interviews and their visits are held to a tight timeline. If you want to contact them, try e-mail. There’s a chance someone on the staff will read it. Meanwhile, God grants us 24-7 direct access. No wait line. No automated message.

The candidates appear to have gone the extra mile, swinging by a Main Street shop and even visiting homes. We are supposed to be bowled over by their efforts. But the Lord made the ultimate sacrifice, dying so we may have eternal life.

The candidates promise to effect change, yet true change doesn’t begin at Capitol Hill—it begins in our hearts when we encounter Christ.

“Dear young people,” Pope Benedict said, “let yourselves be involved in the new life that flows from the encounter with Christ and you will be able to be Apostles of his peace.”

Encountering Christ isn’t easy, the pope acknowledged. It requires a humility and an ability to tune out louder, better-funded pitches, “the interested and persuasive voices that today are peddling on many sides.”

We live in an era when everything comes at us with the force and fervor of a political campaign. Every brochure is glossy and every message spun, arriving in a sticky web of endorsements.

We need not reject every offer; some provide valuable goods and services. But we do need to guard against an overcrowding of accessories and an overabundance of activity, which can render us unavailable to God.

We must, in the words of our pope, “make room” for the Lord in our lives.

Making room for God means periodically unplugging from our high-tech toys, slowing down and allowing for the silence in which he speaks. Making room means turning to him somewhere between the top and bottom of the inbox, uttering a prayer before the meeting, saying a Hail Mary during the commute.

And as the presidential candidates work to woo us, remembering God’s winning love.

(Christina Capecchi is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. E-mail her at christinacap@gmail.com.)†

Local site Links: