I remember sitting in the cafeteria, watching on TV the memorial service for President Ronald Reagan. At the time I was working for a church during the summer months as a "summer vicar," a kind of pastoral assistant, so to speak. And I remember tearing up as Margaret Thatcher, herself old and showing the signs of her age, gave a very fond eulogy. It touched me, the love, respect, admiration that people had for "Ronny." I felt it, too, which is odd because I was only maybe 5 years old when President Reagan was in office. In fact, my only real rememberance of him was his own farewell address as he spoke so eloquently about that shining city on a hill. As a youngster something about the way he spoke made me feel very connected to him, like he was someone special.

Today, the United States is remembering President George H. W. Bush, who died last Friday. My remembrance of him was the Gulf War and how my uncle was sent into the desert to fight "the bad guys." And the now infamous "read my lips" speech.

Why do leaders connect with us so much? Why does a nation mourn when a leader dies? King David mourned the death of Saul (his political enemy!) and Saul's son Jonathan, writing them a funeral song in 2 Samuel 1, and even commissioning it to be taught to the men of Judah.

Perhaps part of the reason we mourn the death of leaders is because of the tremendous responsibility they have been given. Whether that leader knows it or not, they have been put there by God. Scripture declares, "The authorities that exist have been established by God," (Romans 13:1). Jesus told Pontius Pilate that he would have had no authority except that which God had given him (John 19:11).

That should make every leader--whether principals, pastors, presidents or patriarchs--stop cold in their tracks. If God has put them there, then God demands an accounting for the way they conduct themselves. It serves as a reminder to us all that when we pray, we must keep our leaders in mind, even if we don't agree with them, even if they are cruel leaders (Pilate was no great ruler and his counterpart Herod was terrible). Our prayer should often be that leaders would fear God and make decisions knowing God holds them accountable. We should pray for leaders and seek to find leaders who fear God and know him not as "the man upstairs" but as their Savior-God, who sent his son to save mankind and even them from their sin.

Today is a good day to say prayers for the family and freinds of George H. W. Bush. It is a good day to pray for our nation and the nations of the world.

Our leaders are important. God has put them there. Let's remember that.