A New Approach to Memorial Day: Thoughts from a Pacifist

To steal a quote from one of my fellow pacifists, Jeff, “I feel conflicted about conflict.”  I identify with that quote when it comes to Memorial Day or Fourth of July, or anything that supports war.  I am grateful for the people who have served my country in the various wars and battles, I support our troops and the sacrifices they made, but I cannot support war itself.  I think it’s a very sick system.  So how am I be grateful for troops and despise war at the same time?  Well… it’s complicated…  And I’m not here to go on a rant about pacifism, but if you want to hear about my beliefs, you can read them here.

This year, I wanted to do something that honored both of my beliefs, and somehow meditate on both of them.  I wanted to remember those overseas fighting, the veterans, the families, and the sacrifices, but I also wanted to remember war is not the answer, that our enemies are not ‘others’ and we are to be praying for those who persecute.

I decided to read various parts of Scripture (wherever the Spirit lead me) and light a tea candle and pray over each passage.

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Initially, the idea sounded like something cheesy I would read in some women’s devotional book, but I decided to go ahead with it and see what happens.  It ended up being a great time spent with God.  The majority of the Old Testament brought a conviction and a reminder of why war is evil.  The New Testament brought many tears, a sniffling nose, and a desire to repent.  So, here is where the Spirit lead me…

John 1–Jesus is life.  “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Jesus is God incarnate in human flesh and dwelt among us.

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Genesis 3–The Fall of humanity.  This is where death enters, and it is not something of God, but rather, a result of disobeying God’s commands.  God’s original design did not involve death.

Genesis 4–The first sin after The Fall is recorded.  God says to Cain, “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”  Then Cain kills Abel.  The Lord confronts Cain about it, and Cain confesses and then fears that someone will take his life.  “But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.”  The Lord puts a mark on him to keep him safe.  The Lord did not kill Cain although he deserved it.  God had mercy on the first murderer.

Genesis 9–”Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.”  God opposes murder.  We kill His image.

Genesis 7 and other sections of Scripture about genocide, wars, and death.  May we never use these passages to justify violence, but rather, admit that God’s ways and understanding are beyond our own.

Exodus 20:13–Thou shalt not murder.

Leviticus 19:11-13–During the time of The Law, touching a dead body was deemed unclean, impure, unholy.  If someone did not do the cleansing ritual required they were to be cut off from Israel.  Death is not of God.

Leviticus 17:10-13–Blood represents life because it is required for life.

Isaiah, other Major and Minor Prophets, where the message was, “Do not form alliances.  Trust God alone.”  May we be people who trust God and God alone.

Beatitudes, Matthew 5– I read and prayed over several of these categories, which brought me to tears…

“Blessed are those who mourn…” For the families and friends who grieve the death of a loved one who lost their life in war or as a result to the war.

“Blessed are the meek and peacemakers…”  I pray we find a better way to stand up for ourselves and fight without harming others emotionally, verbally, spiritually, mentally, etc…  May we remember the peacekeepers that have gone before us.

“Blessed are the merciful…”  May we be people who forgive and show mercy.

“Blessed are those that are persecuted…” I pray for ISIS.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven…” I pray for those who are losing their lives and are taken from this earth too early.

“Let your light so shine before men…” Although they face death early, may their death not be in vain.  May God be seen through their life and death

vs. 23-24–Do not become angry, but rather seek reconciliation, for reconciliation is greater than sacrifice.  God may we seek reconciliation with our enemies, rather to seek death or a victory in war.

vs. 38-42–Do not seek revenge on another person.  May we not seek revenge for the pain, hurt, or attacks.

vs. 43–”You have heard it was said, “Love your neighbor, hate your enemy.”  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven…  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even the pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”  What a reminder and a call to love.  God, may we love those who fight in the Middle East and even our enemies on our own soils who do violent acts.  May you work in our hurts to love and turn us away from hate

Matthew 7–Do not judge or we too will be judged.  May we not judge the offenders, but love.

vs. 7–Ask… Seek…. Knock…  May we seek what is the right way to handle conflict.  May we stand up in a way that God calls us to.

vs. 12–”So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and Prophets.”  If we do not want others to attack, may we remember not to attack them in offense or defense.

vs. 24–”Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  May we become wise.

Romans 12–We are to be living sacrifices.  “Do not conform to this world but be transformed by he renewing of your mind.”  Violence is of this world.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  May we be transformed from violent people, into those who fight with peace.

Romans 12:9-21–”Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those that mourn.  Live in harmony with one another,  Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I John 1–In Jesus there is no darkness.  If we are in the light, we must walk in the light as Jesus is in the light.  “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Dear Lord, forgive us of us our sin of pride, vengeance, hatred, war, violence and the lack of understanding that we are all humans trying to make it in this world.  Please give us guidance, love and righteousness so that we may be your light in a dark world.

So be it.  (Amen!)

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Written in memory of my Grandpa Andy, who served as a Seabee in WWII and helped clean up after Pearl Harbor.  He died when my mom was young.  The only things I have to serve as “memories” are pictured here:  photographs, an antique display case, and his peacoat.

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candles 4                                                  Grandpa and Grandma Andy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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