war

2015 In Review

By Rev. Mindi

When I look back over this past year, there are a lot of things I think the world can regret.

More violence.

More war.

More mass shootings.

More hate against Blacks, Muslims, transgender women, and others.

In my own town south of Seattle, I have seen passage of anti-homeless ordinances as the rise of the population living in tents grows. I have experienced the failure of two school bonds, resulting in more overcrowded classrooms and not enough space, let alone resources, for students with disabilities as well as typically developing students, in our district where over 44 languages are spoken and all but three schools are Title IX schools.

Looking back, I remember the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, in which nine black church members and their pastor were gunned down by a white supremacist. I remember unarmed African-American men killed by police officers, again. I remember the shooting last month at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Denver, and the shooting in Bakersfield, and the massive attack in Paris, France.

Then I remember June 26th.

President Obama comforted the nation by singing and speaking at Rev. (and Senator) Clementa Pinckney’s funeral. In the midst of tragedy, I found hope.

The Supreme Court of the United States declared that marriage between same-sex couples was legal and a constitutional right.

And remember June 27th?

That was the day Bree Newsome climbed the flagpole in Charleston and tore the damn flag down.

And after that?

Several businesses stopped selling the Confederate flag on merchandise.

There were some good days, even absolutely wonderful days, in 2015.

The world isn’t always getting better. It feels, at times, the world is revolving backwards, that we have made no forward motion in terms of civil rights or justice. But then I remember those days to hold on to, those days when the world changes and doesn’t go back. And I see the kingdom of God is near. I hear the call of John the Baptist, and later of Jesus: “Repent, and believe in the Good News.”

As we draw near the end of 2015, and look to 2016, I hear the Baptizer’s call. Repent, and believe in the Good News. For there is still Good News to be revealed, Good News to be shared, and Good News to engage.

Lectionary Reflectionary: Syria

By Rev. Mindi

 

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. ~Luke 14:25-33

 

The lectionary isn’t always this timely, but it does seem to happen now and then. As we are on the verge of war with Syria, I wonder if we have truly weighed the cost. Having lived in Oklahoma for almost three years, we came to know many families who had a loved one serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; sadly, I knew many children through the preschool I worked at and later in the public schools whose parent had been killed in action.

Have we truly weighed the cost as a nation considering war? We have seen the bodies of children after the chemical weapons attack; how many more bodies will be added to that from our strikes? For surely we cannot guarantee a school or daycare or homes will not be destroyed. We cannot guarantee more children’s bodies will be added to the pyre. What kind of deterrence will missile strikes make? Or will it just make a new generation of people in another land hate us?

I could go on and on. But Church, we’re the one that needs to weigh the cost:

What are we holding on to when we don’t speak up against war? Fear of rocking the boat? Fear of offending those who have served before?

What is possessing us that we step out of the conversation and instead stick to preaching personal salvation? A false sense of security that we are doing the right thing and not becoming political?

If we truly are to carry our cross—the instrument of death—what is it that we need to put to death to follow Jesus?  Is it our fears? Our need to fit in? Our need to keep the “peace” with the people around us even if it means the silent majority outside of our relationships will suffer?

My mother and stepfather love bumper stickers. My mother has lots of peace-related bumper stickers on her car. She has twice been almost run off the road because of her bumper-sticker statements. Once I was in the car with her and two men yelled from their truck on the highway, showing her their dog tags, and then violently turned their car into her lane. My stepfather, who did two tours in Korea and Vietnam, proudly has "Veterans for Peace" bumper stickers on his truck. He also has had threats, but not quite as severe.   

Peace is not the easy way out. Peace is hard. Peace is the way of the cross, to meet the world's violence with nonviolence. Peace is the way of Jesus, who calls us to put away the sword. 

We need to sit down and weigh the cost—in other words, we have to stop being wishy-washy. Are we going to stand, or are we going to be silent?

Church, we need to stand up and demand that our leaders seek peace. There is still time to call your Senators and Representatives. There is still time to have prayer vigils for peace. There is still time to work with other peacemaking organizations and join up in your local community.

There is still time for peace.  Maybe, just maybe, this time can be different. We can actually weigh the cost of our silence and weigh the cost of war, and say, “no more.”