Mayor deserves prayer and respect

Rob Ford is still our mayor.   His has become such a household name that even nine-year-olds have opinions about his mayoralty.

Before I continue spilling ink with yet another column about our city’s infamous mayor, you might be asking, what does an Open Doors column from one of the local Beach churches have to say about politics and particularly about our mayor anyway?

Someone once said to me that religion and politics don’t mix. However, last I heard, that’s probably not what Jesus would have said. I suspect he didn’t divide his world that way.  Remember the Sermon on the Mount in the gospel of Matthew?  There he said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

We Mennonites over at Queen and Lark Street espouse this seemingly crazy notion that Jesus meant what he said about this. We also think that it’s possible to live this way. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” actually means we must renounce violence of any kind as a solution to the world’s problems.

Getting back to the mayor – I don’t actually think the mayor is our enemy, even if many people in our city, myself included, don’t always agree with the way he handles himself and certain situations. But I do want to take the radical commitment to non-violence that we understand in the Sermon on the Mount to a deeper level. We can actually do violence when we speak unkindly and unfairly of one another. What would it mean to renounce that kind of violence? For all the interesting predicaments the mayor seems to attract to himself, he, like everyone else, deserves kindness, respect, generosity, and a fair hearing.

Have some of the things he has said and done make me shake my head in wonder? Yes, but like one of my dear friends reminded me once, if we talk about him, we have to pray for him, and here’s the remarkable thing: prayer often transforms the one who prays as much or more than the one for whom we pray.

So, if we all pray for our mayor and at the same time pray for ourselves to be a little more kind, respectful, generous and fair, we might end up becoming the kind of city within which we want to live.

Marilyn Zehr is the pastor at Toronto United Mennonite Church.

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