Order in the House!

For several days this week, gridlock has prevented the United States House of Representatives from electing a Speaker for this august body of legislators. Fourteen ballots had been cast in the effort to move forward, but to no avail. It would be on the fifteenth round that a breakthrough would occur. All week long, strong differences of opinion dominated the discussions. Every effort had failed to get a majority consensus. Finally, in the very early morning hours of Saturday morning,  a Speaker of the House was elected. This level of disagreement is unusual, but not without historic precedence. The longest vote for a Speaker occurred in 1856 when it took two months and 133 rounds of balloting to elect Rep. Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts as Speaker of the House.

The Gavel: Symbol of Authority

During this present and epic Speaker election of the modern era, many have tuned in to their televisions to watch the actions on C-SPAN live stream. Each round of voting has been proceeded by the action of  the House Clerk who has vigorously pounded her gavel (sometimes multiple times!) to gain the attention of lawmakers chatting each other up in debate and to call the House to order. Her question each time was simply, “Will the House be in order?”

I have found this simple question amusing from several points. First, it implies that the House has been in disorder up to this moment! Those who follow politics know how easily this occurs. Second, it seems that the clerk (in this case a woman!) is the only one designated to restore order to a chamber filled predominantly with men! Sometimes it takes a woman to straighten things out! But thirdly, I think about how many times over the years of being the father (and now grandfather!) of a rowdy bunch of kids and grands that I have wished to have a gavel in my hand as I declare, “Will this house get back to order?!” 😊

My beloved wife, Monique, has a greater tolerance for disorder, clutter and what she would deem to be our brand of her “normality,” than I do! When they were young, our kids were blessed by her relaxed lifestyle as they would be gathered around her sitting on the floor and reading a book or playing a board game when I would get home at the end of the day. They were laughing and engaged as I looked around and saw some disorder here and there. I wanted to say, “Let’s come to order!” but found myself admiring good parenting when I saw it in action!

Recently, the pastors of our home church asked me to preach. The following are some remarks that made it into the message about order and priorities for the New Year –  There is a certain order to things in life! Those who know me say I am a little compulsive about keeping things in order. I used to have a “so-called friend” who would sneak into my office just to mess with things on my desktop! About my affinity for order, I inherited this from a couple of parents prone to perfectionism, and I have tried all my life to ‘make them proud!’”

“Well, here is an acronym for order… J.O.Y. Yes, it spells, “joy.” It is a suggested ordering in our lives (of people) that can contribute to a greater sense of contentment and inner peace for us. You have heard it explained, I’m sure. Think of putting Jesus first, others second and yourself last. That’s a working plan that has some merits.”

“Jesus instructs us to pursue the things important to God as our priority for living. And that means trust God first before worrying and upsetting ourselves over material things. This is basic Christianity. Jesus is number one! King David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). This descriptor is vivid and for me it means, ‘Let your heart beat with the desires of God!’ In your prayers, ask God for the things that Jesus wants for you. ‘O God, Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven!’ (Matthew 6:10).”

At the close of that recent message, I offered this challenge and encouragement for 2023. These words have the potential for bringing order to our lives as we stand of the cusp of this New Year with all its possibilities and opportunities –  “Trust God, put your faith and confidence in Him alone. Then, get in step with His priorities! Put the kingdom of God first! To me, that sounds a lot like - Jesus, Others, and You! Joy! Joy! Joy!”

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com













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