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Be Ye Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only

Pentecost 17 – Year C

Well, what do we do now?

Our nation has been attacked. We have lost nearly six-thousand lives. Our greatest city has been disfigured, our capitol assaulted, our dreams disturbed. You and I don’t know what to say, and our children are scared.

And despite our feelings of rage, and confusion, and somber foreboding at what remains to come – the funny thing is:

You and I are still in charge.

In these United States, we are the democracy which calls its shots. In this time of war, we must choose our nation’s path, and guide it by the light of the Constitution. And, I believe, by a higher power still.

For you and I here today are not just citizens of the land of the free. We are also the heirs of the Kingdom of God. And in that land of free grace, and free will, we also have choices to make, and a light to guide us.

You see we in the Kingdom of God are also in a time of war. Not because of Osama Bin Laden or the Taliban, but because we were born into a world at odds with itself —

a world where 6,000 people die on a Tuesday morning and the sun still shines;

a world where religions and national values can be hijacked just as easily as a commercial aircraft;

a world where people will think they are doing what is right – and they will kill you for it.

We live in a world enthralled in a war between good and evil. And it has not yet ended.

And for totally mysterious reasons, and I am confused exactly why – God has asked us to enlist in His Army, to be His Christian Soldiers.

But … in the training manual we have before us in today’s Holy Scripture …. it looks like God neglected to mention some of the weapons we may have thought we’d be using “as we are marching on to war.”

He forgot to include hate. Or anger. Or fear. Or revenge. Or jingoism. Or nationalism. Or racism. Or the false prophesy of religious manipulators. Or the Sword.

“How are we supposed to go to war without a sword?” You ask?

God’s Gospel Book of Love tells us that no matter how much we may want to do so, we simply cannot chop our way out of the war against evil. We can’t use weapons of violence in this war and win. Because evil cannot beat evil.

And so, we heirs of the Kingdom, and we soldiers of God, must be exhaustively dilligent in our response to acts of evil – so that we do not do evil ourselves.

As a people of God – we must not only renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God – we must renounce the sinful desires which draw us from the love of God.

And among these sinful desires is the desire to kill a whole bunch of folks when we are scared, wounded, and under attack.

You see the people that did this have already hijacked at least one nation, and one religion.

Yes, they took their bitterness at Western encroachment, Israeli oppressiveness, and American arrogance, and they poisoned their own faith, their own religion, and their own hopes of peace.

And now that they have taken our hearts hostage with fear, they have called us out of the cockpit of our flight of freedom, and asked us to do our worst.

The Devil has invited us to dance with Him in that downward spiral of revenge and tit-for-tat violence which characterizes the world of powers and princes.

And, we must choose what our answer will be.

Churchill once said to Hitler, “you do your worst, and we will do our best.”

As an American man, and a strange hybrid of priest who actually goes to the firing range on occasion to shoot guns and make noise, my right hand wants to hold the sword, and cut my enemy down.

But as an heir to the Kingdom of God, my left hand wants to hold out the bread of Christian charity, and feed the poor children of Ishmael who are taught lies by those who have hijacked the Muslim faith.

I believe this same choice faces our nation.

Which hand should we use?

God says we must must “fight the good fight of the faith.”

God says, “happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, … who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food for the hungry.”

God says, “there once was a rich man who wore purple and gold, and ate sumptously, and never cared a lick for the poor.”

As Christians we are beholden to a higher law than the law of the princes and men. As Christians who bear the democratic duty to determine the actions of a mighty nation, we must find a way to use our power for the good of the world. We must find a way to be the rich man who does not merely dress in purple and fine gold, but who gives clothing to those undressed. We must not eat sumptuously as our gluttony commands, but instead feed those whose hunger destroys them. We must be vigilant that we not make our wealth and power our true religion.

As Christians we must always be willing to face the cross. And, when the cross is placed at the crossroads of war, we rich men and women of America must use the power entrusted to us for the good of God’s Kingdom.

We must not give up control of our ship of Christian hope, and add ourselves to the tragic list of well-intentioned pilots who are tricked out of the cockpit and into oblivion by the wiles of madmen and evildoers. For neither our religion nor our nation ought be hijacked by those who hate.

As faithful servants, grateful for what we’ve been given in this life, content with our many blessings, let us seek only to do what God did when he became one of us: healing, feeding, and calming the stormy seas of a World at War in Sin.

Let us put national outrage in the grave, so the nation might live on. And let us show the world that a Holy war is fought only in the Spirit of the man who died on a wooden cross, forgiving a broken world for its sins, even until the end.

Because Jesus died for our sins – let us summon the courage to face evil by doing good.


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