Every five years the largest democracy on earth goes to the polls. It takes several weeks, countless hours of preparatory work, and thousands of election officials. Not to mention battalions of police to ensure fair and unblocked access to vote. But it is the amazing fact of several hundred million Indians taking the time to vote, often in the hottest weather of the year. As anyone knows who knows me, I wish I could vote in the election! But that is not my lot in life.
The great and wonderful ‘tamasha'(a Hindi word with a meaning something like everything happening at once, kind of a holy chaos)is going on now, and results will be announced on May 23rd. There are all kinds of predictions of who will win, or even that it may be a ‘hung’ parliament, which means no one party gets a majority of seats. I have a keen sense of anticipation about this election, not because I know who will win, but because India is at such a strategic place in its history and its influence in the world.
India is not only a modern nation, it is a civilization, or really a multiplicity of civilizations. It has known some of the greatest empires in history, whether indigenous to the land or in an invading form. It has been touched by the Christian faith as early as the first century, and in the medieval period (see map) may have had a thriving Christianity both in the far south but even perhaps even in the north.
India as a land of the East was at one time host to the Church of the East, the Asian Church. Western Christian faith did not come to India until many centuries later. Yet India has been a land of hospitality not only to early Christianity but to many other faiths and beliefs. It still is.
I have just crossed this dynamic land in the past few days with meetings in the far corners. I have been in the Himalayas and had to use my jacket every day, and have been in the plains and experienced heat of over 110 degrees F.
Would you pray in these days for India? I love its history, its people, its richness of culture. But even more I think I love its future.