Summary: This brief sermon was written to be delivered at a special prayer service scheduled to be held at 7 PM on the day following a war with Iraq.
THE WAR HAS BEGUN
A meditation for a special service of prayer scheduled to be held at 7 PM on the day following the day America attacks Iraq.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
The war has begun.
We gather here as people of God who have been expecting this, dreading this, but praying earnestly for peace.
We gather together and in many ways we are a fragmented people with different opinions and different views.
Some here have been marching for peace, holding signs that say, “give peace a chance” as traffic would drive by.
Some here have emailed and written and telephoned political leaders asking them to avoid war.
Some here feel the war is unjust and inappropriate. Others feel the war is just and noble.
Some here have prayed that this day would come, eagerly wanting American to change the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Some here have families or friends who are in the military. For them the war has a face, and it is the face of a loved one.
Some here are in the military, or in the reserves, and there is an uncertainty of what will happen to their units, or to their colleagues in other units.
You may feel sad or frustrated, joyful or angry, excited or frightened. You may well feel a lot of different emotions.
But whatever our feelings we are all united in the fact that we are children of God and we gather to seek God’s intervention and participation in human history and in current events.
And so we gather in the Lord’s House together – feeling different things, but all seeking God’s will and praying for God’s action.
As we gather, I cannot help but believe that some of us are ill-prepared for this day.
I don’t mean, have you gone to Home Depot and bought all of plastic sheeting for all of your windows and duct tape.
I don’t mean, have you ordered your Israeli Army Surplus gas mask and your chemical suit.
I firmly believe we should be prepared for the worst. Most of us are good at that, living as we do here in Florida we know all about hurricane preparations. Some of the preparations I’ve heard about I’ve laughed at, thinking about how useless they are. Some of the preparations I take very seriously.
I’m talking about preparation that I have not seen described in the newspapers or in the Homeland Defense web pages.
I’m talking about spiritual preparation.
I meet people all the time who fail to make the kind of spiritual preparations they need for life.
A lot of people think that spiritual preparations are for the AFTER-life, but we need to make spiritual preparations for this life – the here and now.
I met a woman recently at Jackson Memorial Hospital who had never given any thought to spiritual preparations. Now she suddenly found herself in a crisis and she was without the preparations she needed.