Summary: This sermon is written during the first week of the second war with Iraq. Our nation and the world is deeply divided over the facts of why this conflict is here. I maintain that truth is eternal and the truth behind this conflict will emerge with time.
Paonia United Methodist Church
March 23, 2002
Folks, let me start off by being as transparent as possible with you.
I have really struggled with what to say to you today.
I have struggled because I believe that the church has to be
Relevant to the world outside…
And right now, the world is deeply divided and violent.
Anything I say about the conflict in the Middle East is guaranteed to
Tick some folks off because feelings run very deep.
With that said, I still have to give you something
This morning that is relevant to the world we live in.
So, I would as you to set aside your own personal feelings for a moment,
And remember what we are here for today.
We are here to gather together as a body and to worship.
I would like to take this moment to share with you a little more
About myself and my own world view.
As most of you have well figured out,
I have an unusual last name.
Nadasi is Hungarian,
It is a common name, but it is not the name of our ancestry.
My grandfather changed our last name from Mercs,
That the family would not be confused as Jewish,
As a madman by the name of Adolf Hitler was rounding
Up the Jews and taking over Europe.
Thankfully, they did not get as far as to reach my family.
Our name was never changed back.
They were safe up until the invasion by the Soviets in 1958.
When the Russians rolled in,
My Grandfather Yanosh, (John) for whom I am named after,
Told his sons to flee.
Grandpa refused to become a “good communist.”
My father and several of my uncles fought against the Soviet invasion,
But the resistance was inevitably crushed.
Grandpa hid with my aunt underneath a road
In a drainage culvert for several years
When the communists came to take her for “re-education.”
The older brothers ran for the borders.
Several were captured and later escaped under gunfire
Into Yugoslavia and Austria.
My father was held in a former WWII concentration camp
Until he was eventually granted amnesty in the United States.
My Orthodox Catholic father met a Southern Baptist girl,
And well, lets just say they agreed on the United Brethren, now
The United Methodist Church and here I am.
Why do I tell you this story?
For this reason…
We don’t have much love for tyrants in my family,
And I am not going to lose much sleep seeing this one go.
I want you to at least try and understand the lens that
I look through when I see the world.
You do not have to see it the way I do.
In fact, the written polity of our denomination is decidedly
Pacifistic. So, if that is who you are,
There are plenty in the Methodist church
Who are with you.
We are not a creedal church…
We are not forced to all believe the same thing.
We do not all have to have the same world view in order
To belong to this body.
Me personally, I am not a pacifist.
I am not real keen on war either.
What I want is a safe and stable world to one day
Maybe raise some kids in.
As I told my colleagues,
It would be my pleasure to join with them and hold
Hands singing “We are the world”
To the gentle scent lavender aroma therapy candles.
The problem is, ignoring evil doesn’t make it go away…
It only makes us blind to it.
Like I said at the beginning,
I struggled with what I wanted to say to you today…
It is somewhat ironic the choice of the lectionary text for this morning.
It is the one and only violent outburst we see from the person
Of Christ recorded in Scripture.
13When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!"
17His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."
18Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?"
19Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."
20The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.