I was mildly amused recently when a magazine I take reported on an obituary notice which had appeared in a newspaper in Richmond, Virginia.
It ran something like this; ‘Confronted with the option of voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, Mrs. Mary Ann Nolland decided instead to depart into the eternal love of God on Sunday’.
By the time you read this column, the American voters will have decided which of the aforementioned candidates they dislike less.
A host of stories gather round unpopular politicians canvassing for votes. In Kentucky in the mid-nineteenth century, a voter arrived and said, ‘I want to vote for Henry Clay.’
He was informed that Clay, Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams and long-time senator for Kentucky , had been dead for twenty years.
‘Well, he responded, ‘I’d rather vote for Henry Clay dead than for any of these men living.’
The radical politician John Wilkes encountered voter scepticism on many occasions. A heckler once shouted, ‘Vote for you? I’d sooner vote for the devil!’.
But Wilkes was ready with his riposte; ‘Yes, but what if your friend isn’t standing?
In the first Christian century, as in the twenty-first, distrust in political leaders was widespread, and with even greater cause.
Writing about that century, the historian Tacitus wrote, ‘I am entering upon the history of a period, rich in disasters, gloomy with wars, rent with seditions, savage in its very hours of peace.’
Agrippina, wife of the Emperor Claudius, often left the palace at night to serve in Rome’s brothels. Folk exulted in immoral behaviour. It was said, ‘The greater the infamy, the wilder the delight.’
Yet even against that dark background , the apostle Paul instructed his fellow-Christians; ‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities.
The authorities that exist have been established by God.’(Romans 13;1). A bad ruler is better than no ruler, as statesmen are perhaps now discovering in the Middle East .
And for such rulers prayers are to be offered. ‘I urge’, wrote Paul to Timothy,’ that prayers be made for everyone-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives.’(1 Timothy 2;1).
So whatever the result when Wednesday dawns, offer a prayer for the President-elect.