How can a small local congregation respond to a war on the other side of the globe? I don’t know for sure, but that is, in part, what I tried to explore in this sermon. The good people of Woodridge United Methodist Church have previously taken bold action in opposition to the USA invasion war in Iraq. What will we do this time?
In a world already on fire with a pandemic, with systemic racism, and with legislative violence against trans children and their parents…we add an actual war unlike any we’ve seen for 80 years.
Instead of the usual Revised Common Lectionary, since Advent we are using The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney’s, A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church, Year W. What a time for her to assign us Isaiah 2!
God shall judge between the nations, and shall decide justly for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church, Year W, p134
How the hell are we ever going to get there? I don’t really know — except that we certainly won’t stop war by doing nothing.
That banner continued to fly as the invasion commenced. As invasion became war, that banner remained. Now, you might ask: did it do any good? I don’t know. Certainly it did not keep us from invading Iraq, nor it didn’t keep us out of war there. Did the banner change anyone’s mind? I have no way of knowing. But I do know that even as public support for that war increased, our banner remained. “Give Peace a Chance.” That banner was a public-facing message that we here at Woodridge UMC were striving to be people who follow the Prince of Peace.
If you give the sermon a listen, you’ll hear a bit why I find the verb “to strive” so vital.
Here’s the longer article by Lindsey Paris-Lopez from which I quote.
And here is the ridiculous (though important corrective!) variant song I wrote: “J-E-S-U-S, Yes that’s the book for us, we stand together with the Word of God, J-E-S-U-S.” Thank ya, thank ya very much.
Finally, — though I hope you’ve heard this in full multiple times by now — scroll to the bottom of this great resource from the Michigan Conference of the UMC for the full version of “The Hill We Climb” by the incomparable Amanda Gorman.
Sermon begins at the 42:42 mark of the video on our Woodridge UMC Channel on YouTube.
War is being waged on Ukraine. War is being waged on our Black and Brown and Indigenous Neighbors. An authoritarian despot is waging war on Ukraine. War is being waged on freedom by authoritarianism. War is being waged on our LGBTQ children and their parents.
It seems to me the questions for us, the people of Woodridge UMC, are:
What voices from the wide world of wisdom will we raise?
How will be embody – how will we incarnate the Love of God we know in Jesus?
What rebellion of hope will we wage?