August 27, 2013O God, your people have not changed. Persecution and pain rule and human arrogance abounds. Your people “have committed two evils: they have forsaken God, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah has a pretty good assessment of the human condition and the propensity for apostasy. Damascus in the first century was a place where persecution was daily fare. Witness Paul as recorded in Acts of the Apostles. Paul is breathing threats and murder, a status quo voice railing against a minority who are following a different way. It is not until light from heaven and the voice of God intervene and he sees Christ that his life is turned around and set straight. Change happens only as God’s voice is heard and Christ is before him in the way he moves forward in life. The scenes from Damascus in the past week have been horrifying, chilling and reminiscent of tales of the Holocaust. Bodies shrouded in white cloth, lined up in rows wait for grievers and burial. We know chemical weapons were used. We speculate that this crime was committed by those commanded by Bashar Assad, whom most of the world agrees is a ruler out of control, except by an ego whose moral compass is apparently pointed to due-hell. Responses from world powers, including the United States, are moral outrage and disdain. Even today, warships are travelling to the waters off the coast of Syria. Big Sticks and Bravado are rising around the world, and off we go again. My question is: Where are the peacemakers? I was told once that the 82nd Airborne consider themselves the Peacemakers. When the jets fly over us toward the landing field at Cherry Point Air Station, we remember the mantra of the corps, “That’s the sound of freedom.” I know I am beneficiary of the sacrifice of these peacekeepers. Yet with all the firepower, all the sabers, all the ships and missiles, and young people going off to wars, there is no peace. Damascus is at risk; Syria and the Middle East are at risk. All the world is at risk. What is the right response? How do we move forward as people beloved by God to give witness to the peace that Jesus is? Anointed Messiah, Prince of Peace, Light of the World, Life Abundant, how do we live your way? Before the world falls in a way that cannot be put together again, let us pray God will speak to worldly power in ways that change our world through responses based on love and the value of all creation. Raise up a people, O God, who hear your voice and seek your ways. Turn us from building our own cisterns to drinking from the wells of your Living Water. Give us assurance that you are present with the innocents and the voiceless in their pain and despair. Forgive our unbridled arrogance and self-assurance. Grow the seeds of kindness in us, seeds you sowed in us when we were formed. Make us strong in you that we may rise up, not with big sticks and swords, but with invitation to healing and wholeness as the community of the world, a community that inhabits a very small planet. We rest in your care and provision. Love us through our human failings, we pray. Amen.