Thursday, February 9, 2017

This Week in Church: Being a peacemaker

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.


This week in church, we talked about being peacemakers.

It was not a coincidence. The sermon series was supposed to be something different, and then they changed it because of obvious things happening in the world.

There are so many facets to peacemaking. Here are some of the things that came up this week:

This week in church we talked about identity.

Philosopher Michel Foucault says we create a self by identifying our strengths and then deciding that those are important traits and looking down on those who don't have them. This immediately creates an us/them dynamic. Handy for feeling good about ourselves, not so handy for unity.

"But for the grace of God." - This reminds me that I am not actually better than anyone. I only have the intelligence, freedom, and physical abilities that I have through the chance of my birth and upbringing and not getting hit by cars or stray bullets.

This week in church we talked about creating a third option.

"When this culture gives you two options, choose the third."

This is a cheeky Protestant quote that is easy to write off, but also a nice reminder that we don't have to just take what's being offered to us. I fall for this kind of thing all the time - someone will present me with two options that are both terrible and I will forget to think about the possibility of a third.

This week in church we talked about loving our enemies.

It's easy to get obsessed with how we are right or how we have been wronged. This has recently been dubbed "outrage porn", and it feels kind of good, but it doesn't help with the us/them dynamic.

I get that focusing only on my rightness or how someone else has wronged me isn't helpful. So then how do I balance necessary outrage at terrible injustices with a peacemaker's heart? Loving my enemies doesn't mean agreeing with them or rolling out the red carpet, so I guess it has something to do with how we disagree with those we love?

This week in church we talked about the beatitudes.

Blessed are those who are persecuted, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who are poor in spirit, blessed are those who hunger and thirst, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness.

I suppose one could use this to argue that Muslim Americans are currently being blessed through the persecution they are facing. I don't feel super comfortable delving into those waters right now.

What this made me think of, for today, is the cost to standing up for what's right. I especially think of those politicians and businesses and judges that are currently saying "no, we will not go along with this." They are and will continue to experience backlash. They will receive anger and persecution for their righteousness.

If I was going to pray anything, I would pray that they stand true to those righteous values. That they don't give in. That those with an opportunity to show mercy will do so and that they understand that their persecution means they are doing something right. (PS: it might help them stay the course if those of us who think they are doing the right thing let them know.)

This week in church we spoke the Litany of Resistance.

It's long. It's so powerful.

If you don't like the God parts, rewrite those elements and then let's all recite this every morning. (Or once a week, because it's long.)

Lamb of God, you take away the sin o the world
Have mercy on us
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
Free us from the bondage of sin and death
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
Hear our prayer, Grant us peace.

For the victims of war:
Women, men, and children
Have mercy
The maimed and the crippled
The abandoned and the destitute
Have mercy
The imprisoned and the tortured
The widowed and the orphaned
Have mercy
The bleeding and the dying
The weary and the desperate
Have mercy
The lost and the forsaken
The homeless and the refugee
Have mercy

O God -- Have mercy on us sinners
Forgive us for we know not what we do
For our scorched and blackened earth
Forgive us
For the scandal of billions wasted on war
Forgive us
For the violence that is rooted in our hearts
Forgive us
For the times we turn others into enemies
Forgive us

Deliver us, O God
Guide our feet into the way of peace
From the arrogance of power
Deliver us
From the myth of redemptive violence
Deliver us
From the tyranny of greed
Deliver us
From the ugliness of racism
Deliver us
From the cancer of hatred
Deliver us
From the seduction of wealth
Deliver us
From the addiction of control
Deliver us
From the idolatry o nationalism
Deliver us
From the paralysis of cynicism
Deliver us
Fromt he violence of apathy
Deliver us
From the ghettos of poverty
Deliver us
From the ghettos of wealth
Deliver us
From a lack of imagination
Deliver us
Deliver us, O God
Guide our feet into the way of peace

We will not conform to the patterns of this world
Let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds
With the help of God's grace
let us resist evil wherever we find it
With the waging of war
and the legalization of murder
We will not comply
With the slaughter of innocents
and with laws that betray human life
We will not comply
With the destruction of community
and the pointing finger and malicious talk
We will not comply
With principalities and powers that press
We will not comply
With the raping of women
We will not comply
With governments that kill
and the business of militarism
We will not comply
With the hoarding of riches
We will not comply
With the dissemination of fear
We will not comply

Today we pledge our ultimate allegiance,
 to the Kingdom of God. To a peace that is not like Rome's
We pledge allegiance
To the Gospel of enemy love
We pledge allegiance
To the Kingdom of the poor and broken
We pledge allegiance
To a King that loves his enemies so much he died for them
We pledge allegiance
To the least of these, with whom Christ dwells
We pledge allegiance
To the transnational Church that transcends the artificial borders of nations
We pledge allegiance
To the refugee of Nazareth
We pledge allegiance
To the homeless rabbi who had no place to lay his head
We pledge allegiance
To the cross rather than the sword
We pledge allegiance
To the banner of love above any flag
We pledge allegiance
To the one who rules with a towel rather than an iron fist
We pledge allegiance
To the one who rides a donkey rather than a war-horse
We pledge allegiance
To the revolution that sets both oppressed
and oppressors free
We pledge allegiance
To the Way that leads to life
We pledge allegiance
To the Slaughtered Lamb
We pledge allegiance

And together we proclaim his praises,
from the margins of the empire to the centres of wealth and power
Christ has died, Christ is risen,
Chris will come again
May His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

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