Try to imagine above, if you will, a photo meant for a Christmas letter. It will help make sense out of this post, hopefully.
This year we have a bunch of friendly farmers featured for this season’s epistle. If you look carefully at the picture above you will see there is no evidence of dirt on those lovely agrarian trousers. The kids and grandkids just ambled over there after they got off their motorcycles, bicycles, scooters and out of their cars, to get in the picture next to a tractor that doesn’t get out much. The portrait has nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with scrambling to get a recent snapshot. Three of the tractor-team kids are now 15 years of age and into lots of school activities, along with their younger siblings.
Tis the season for world peace, of course. ISIS has been dominating the global news and now terrorism has struck in my home state, California. In fact, the assailants lived in Redlands, a site where Methodist pastors and laity have met for generations. The delegates in the university chapel often sang a hymn that began “God of love and God of power…Thou hast called us for this hour.”
Americans seem to be more fearful than ever before after the attack on a ‘peaceful’ neighborhood. Where do we respond in power for this hour? What do we have that can make a difference? Well, we have relied upon prayer for centuries so why not give it a shot?
Maybe we have not tried hard enough with our petitions when it comes to such terrifying hostilities. I was up against such a situation while I was offering a pastoral prayer during the Iraq war. I began the prepared plea but after a few sentences I suddenly stopped and admitted to the congregation that I needed to include something that I thought might be too personal. That always gets parishioners attention to look up.
I revealed to the members that I had heard about a 15 year-old Iraqi boy who chose to honor his country and his faith by going to war. We had a teenaged Marine grandson over there at the time. So, if I pray for the enemy-kid’s life and Lonnie’s too do I cause one or the other to take a better aim? I confessed to those present that I was perplexed and needing help on the prayer, and then went on to cite other concerns. A few thought I should have ended it with God on our side.
Kurt Vonnegut claimed “We had forgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. ‘My God,’ I said to myself, ‘it’s the Children’s Crusade.’” What is the future for our 15 years old?
What if we are being called for this hour to urge nations and states to stop all teens from going to war and drafting fifties, sixties and seventy-year-olds for battle? Lucky for this retired pastor who turned eighty this month. OK, perhaps we oxygen-deprived octogenarians may have some power left in us after all for the good of the order.
Do Muslims and Christians have the clout to end all wars?