U-C: What I See

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Update on plans for Interfaith Witness against the War in Iraq

Sisters and Brothers,

Some of you have written to ask for more information about the events to be held in Washington D.C. later this week and next. I am still planning to participate (after continued prayer and discernment) in the Interfaith Service and Procession to be held on Tuesday the 26th.

The event will begin at 10:00 a.m. in Upper Senate Park. There will be an interfaith liturgy beginning at 10:30, followed by a procession near or around the Congressional building. As I wrote several weeks ago, some of the participants are considering an act of nonviolent, civil disobedience as a part of the procession. There is more information about all of those events at www.declarationofpeace.org and at http://www.iraqpledge.org/, and both websites have registration forms to fill out if you will be participating.

I am not unaware of some of the conversation that's been going on about my decision to participate in these events, and especially to consider participating in nonviolent, civil disobedience, in Presbyterian blogging and list serve circles.

Ched Myers has written, in his one of his two amazing commentaries on the book of Mark, called "Who will roll away the stone," about the powerful image of Peter warming his hands at the fire of the temple guards while Jesus is being tried, beaten, and condemned to die on a cross just a few feet away. He suggests that Peter's struggle is a metaphor for our own. In a sense, we are all inside the temple gate, warming ourselves at the fire of- and receiving the benefits of - the empire. In the meantime, there is a world of suffering, and it doesn't take a lot of effort (though perhaps it takes incredible courage) to listen to the cries of a suffering Jesus just a short distance away.

The agony that Peter expressed as he denied Jesus and then broke down and wept is our own agony. Perhaps better said, it is my agony. The opportunity to travel around the world and to worship with sisters and brothers who live with violence, and disease, and poverty, and yes - war too - carries a special burden. My own struggle is to try to figure out how to pull away from the fire and to try to move where I can stand with that suffering Jesus.

Lest I be accused of sanctimony or shallow acts (accusations I take quite seriously), let me say also that I continue to feel doubt, and to experience my own brokenness, as I try to move to stand with that Jesus. I felt it last week as I spent a couple of days in the desert vainly searching for migrants who were lost or ill. I am feeling it this week as we meet as leaders of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship to talk about how to make our own feeble efforts at accompaniment meaningful even as we recognize that our privilege means we will never really understand the suffering of others.

And I'm certain I'll feel it next week, as I stand with a relatively small crowd in front of our Congress to witness to my conviction that Jesus' instructions to love our enemy are more than empty rhetoric or religous flourish.

And still, I'm certain we must all do more to live what we believe.

Please join us in Washington, or in your own communities, in standing against this war. And please, keep our religious leaders, our soldiers, and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan in your prayers.