Christian Peace Witness for Iraq - following the Prince of Peace
The Christian Peace Witness (www.christianpeacewitness.org) is a week away. Next Friday night, March 16th, there will be thousands of Christians who will gather to worship together at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. at 7:00 p.m. Following our worship service, we will create a joyous procession to the White House, celebrating the Prince of Peace as we walk three and a half miles down Massachusetts Avenue. Worship will continue in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, and at around 10:00 or 10:30, we will surround the White House in a circle of light and prayers for peace and an end to the war in Iraq. Simultaneously, there will be close to one hundred other services going on across the country as Christians gather to insist that we are united by the Jesus who chose the way of the cross. Together, we stand against this war.
As of now, close to 3,500 people have registered on-line as participants, with more signing on each day. Perhaps most significantly, over 700 of the registrants have indicated that they are prayerfully discerning whether they feel called to risk arrest as the procession forms around the White House late Friday night. Though the point of our witness is not to be arrested, our resolve to carry out this nonviolent witness in a way that will be heard is strong.
It’s not too late to be a part of this important witness. Close to thirty partner organizations representing a wide spectrum of Christians have worked together to plan an event that will reflect the best of our traditions and beliefs as followers of Jesus.
There is nothing simple about standing against war. Many will call us naïve, foolish, stupid, or perhaps most troubling – subversive – as we stand firmly with the Jesus who calls us to love our enemies.
Still, it is our conviction that Jesus’ teachings about reaching out in love and friendship to those of whom we are most afraid are, in the end, the only way to achieve genuine security in a world that is increasingly violent and insecure. In a post September 11 world, the people of the United States must reach out rather than turn inward. This message is no more difficult than what Jesus asked his earliest Jewish followers to do as he insisted that they “cross over” to the other side – to the land of the gentiles – those whom they had been taught to hate.
In First John, chapter four – that Gospel message is driven home once again. “There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear. . . and those who say ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars. . . The commandment we have from God is this, those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
So this is your opportunity to join in a witness that you can trust grows out of an authentic commitment to our faith. This event is not about partisan politics, it is about being firmly rooted in the biblical tradition and insisting that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus had serious political implications in his time, and has similar implications in our time as well.
This witness will call for a clear plan to end the war.
We will ask for a timeline to bring our troops home and we will call on all of us in our churches and across our country to honor the sacrifice made by our soldiers and their families. The project of providing pastoral care for those families will be long and will demand our deepest resolve.
We will be clear that the gospel calls us as a people to commit to the difficult, long-term work of helping Iraqis to rebuild their communities. The only way to begin to build trust in communities in the Middle East and around the world is to make it clear that we have no intention of enriching our own corporations as we support an international reconstruction effort.
We will insist, again, that we believe our nation is called to renounce all torture, for we know that it is both ineffective as a security measure and morally abhorrent to our God.
We will ask for a clear commitment from our government to recommit to the things that we know will make for peace and genuine security here at home in our own country: affordable health care, a dignified wage, a full-education, and genuine food security for every family in our country.
When we affirm that we are followers of Jesus, it must mean something. We must be willing to take risks for and with the Prince of Peace. We must be willing to extend a hand of genuine friendship to all people, of all faith traditions, and insist that we can and will create a world of genuine security.
Next Friday night, join us in Washington as we lift our voices in a proclamation of what it means to be Christian. If you can’t come to Washington, go to https://secure.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizations/Sojo/event/distributedEventSearch.jsp?distributed_event_KEY=249 to find a Christian Peace Witness service near you.
Many blessings as we take action together to move us toward peace and genuine security.