My state Representative Jason Dunnington asked me to serve as the Pastor of the Week last week. Of course I agreed. I met Jason while he campaigned last fall. He knocked on our door several times, but my Democrat-registered daughter was never home since she’s away at school. We connected over twitter and met for coffee and have become friends as we’ve swapped stories about our lives and kids and ministry and calling and doubts and fears and hopes and joys.
I certainly didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know this was a thing – Pastor of the Week? The first day I was extremely nervous which was out of character for me. It was a new situation and I wasn’t sure what the expectations were of me. The House floor is an imposing room. I was introduced and I stood at the podium and prayed for approximately seven seconds. I decided that if you’re nervous, you might as well be short!
I settled down after that. I prayed three more days and tried to cover a range of topics that I thought we should pray for. I prayed for our neighbors and neighborhood, the cities, suburbs and rural places, for men and women, rich and poor, the employers and employees, those doing well and those struggling, for all types of jobs, for those in jail and their families, for those who work for the city and state, for teachers, for kids, for the elderly, for those who are sick, for the lonely, for the oppressed and marginalized. I also prayed one day for our state, nation and world, I even prayed for our universe.
I was given five minutes for a devotional to finish of the session’s week on Thursday. I struggled with what to say in my time. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be funny or witty or profound or Bible-answer man or hard-core or… I’m sure I overthought it. It was a week and a day of ministry for me – meetings and breakfasts about racial reconciliation, conversations about addiction and pain, money and budgets, breakups, premarital counseling, studying for sermons, a wonderful dinner with new friends, planning, organization gains and fails, a surprise wedding, a pregnancy announcement, many confessions and some repentance. So my brain was crowded.
I talked for five minutes about the pride of life, the worst and most foundational of the seven deadly sins. I read Jesus’ story about the Pharisee and the tax collector from Luke 18, and said that Jesus died for all the keeps us away from God. That when he said, “It is finished!” pride was done in right then and there by the one who actually deserved every ounce of pride yet went to the cross in humility for others. That when we say, “He is risen!” we’re announcing that we take pride in him and his victory, not in ours.
I never knew where I was in the building, because it’s a confusing place. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. The art in the capitol is spectacular if you haven’t seen it. I love the statues both inside and outside. I ran into people I knew and made new friends. There’s always something going on in there – lunches, meetings, concerts, tours, interviews.
I’m thankful that Jason asked me. I haven’t had much to do with government, and that is my fault. This wasn’t an episode of West Wing, but I grew in my appreciation for what these men and women do to make our state better. We need to get better. We need to pray for them and minister to them and encourage them as they do important work that matters a great deal. They care very deeply and want things to be better. By God’s help may Oklahoma be the best state it can be. May it glorify God and enjoy him for ever.