Thursday, May 05, 2005

V E Day

I was in France four years ago, when VE Day (the "end" of World War II in Europe) was celebrated. Unlike the United States, it is a national holiday in France, and I was impressed with the reverence with which people treated the day and its meaning.

Now, in 2005, it seems to have special meaning, throughout the world, as we remember the 60th anniversary of this special date in the life of humanity.

And one of the things the anniversary has spurred, at least among us clergy "types," is a discussion about the meaning of war, the validity of war, the value of war, the reality of war. Most of us, however we feel about that war or any other, seem fairly well convinced that our position coincides with the one the Lord had. WWJD? Well, it seems he would do what I would.

But maybe it is not so much what Jesus did that is important, as much as what Jesus knew. Jesus seems to know, more clearly than we seem able, that we are are war - within ourselves.

When I am immersed in Scripture, when I am reading about loving my enemies, it's "Right on! That's the way to live." When Jesus speaks about turning the other cheek, "Amen, brother! I can do that." And when he talks, and walks, about caring passionately and unconditionally about those people who don't give a damn about me, "You go, Jesus!"

Oh yes, when I am deep within Scripture, I can be incredibly brave, unbelievably strong, committed without any sort of reservation or question.

But when I shut the Bible, get up, and walk out the door into my life, I become a wimp with a capital W, I, M, P. With a single bound, I can jump into a conflict adding my anger. I can leap tall steeples to land with my right foot of hostility and my left foot of righteousness into the midst of any debate. I can pick up my weapons of pride and arrogance and do mighty battle with any one, and every one, who dares to disagree with me.

The abyss, cut deep by the raging waters of all our anger, hate and bitterness, between where we want to live and the world we really inhabit is precisely what Jesus came to bridge, that we might follow him across into that peaceable Kingdom of God. And fortunately, in the Spirit he leaves behind, Jesus gives us the tools to keep the bridge standing long after he is gone.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

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