Summary: In response to the Attack on America of September 11th, this sermon addresses the struggle between wanting to be faithful to Christ’s call for peace and faithful to Christ’s call for justice. Jeremiah warns us from crying for "peace, peace," when there i
"But There Is No Peace"
The Rev. Dr. Maynard Pittendreigh
Sunrise Presbyterian Church
It was not that long ago.
You remember where you were when you heard the news.
You will always remember. You will tell your children and your grandchildren where you were when you first heard about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center.
You will tell them how you felt when you heard about another plane crashing into the Pentagon. Or the second plane hitting the other World Trade Center’s tower. Or the news of how passengers stood up to the terrorists of a fourth plane and kept them from crashing into -- well, who knows? The White House? The Capital?
And you will never forget the rage you felt on September 11th.
But now the rage has passed and rational thought is returning. Advocates for peace are beginning to speak against our war against terrorist.
I’m reminded of my youth. When I was 18 years old, I signed up for the draft -- not a registration -- it was a draft back then. We were fighting a war in Vietnam. It was a war I’d grown up with. On the day I registered for that draft, I could not remember a time when the war had not been discussed around our family table each night while watching the evening news.
My generation protested that war. We sang songs about "All we are saying, is give peace a chance."
Now I watch a growing peace movement once again. And once again they are singing songs.
I serve the Prince of Peace, but I’m troubled by the words of Jeremiah. "There is no peace."
In the days immediately after the attacks, this church held several special prayer services. On the first Sunday after the attacks, our members met on our street corner and waved American flags and celebrated our patriotism. I’ve heard many of our World War II Veterans say how they wished they could sign up again.
But that was our immediate response.
As time goes by, however, it becomes easier for us to realize there is a great spiritual struggle.
We responded to the attacks with a cry for war, but upon reflection, our memories begin to recall something very important -- or rather someone. Christ. The Prince of Peace.
Christ -- who called us to turn the other cheek.
Christ -- who urged us to love all people.
Christ -- who commanded us to pray for our enemy.
So, as Christians, how do we respond to these attacks?
War has always been difficult for Christians. And rightfully so.
Many have personally experienced this struggle, and one of the most notable was a simple boy from the mountains of Tennessee.
He was a devout Christian, but he was called to serve in the army during the first World War.
He was filled with doubts as to whether or not he could actually kill another person.
His captain was well versed in Scripture, and the two of them entered a long discussion.
The soldier from Tennessee pointed out that the Bible said, "Thou shalt not kill."
The captain replied with a quote from Luke 22:36, "Jesus said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."(NIV)
Back and forth the two quoted Scripture to one another until the captain mentioned Ezekiel 33, in which God places a responsibility for defending one’s homeland.
"Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ’When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head."
Ezekiel 33:2-4 (NIV)
With that verse, the young soldier from Tennessee began to understand that sometimes it is necessary for Christians to engage in warfare. His name was Sgt. York and he did indeed fight in a war. In one battle, he faced more than two dozen enemy machine guns all alone in the Argonne Forest. For that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
We have lived at peace for many years.
That peace ended on September 11th, but in the time that has followed, many of us are struggling with issues of faith. These are struggles worth engaging. These are questions that need to be asked.
But as we ask them, let us be careful, lest we become more like the religious leaders of Jeremiah’s day: "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 8:10-11)