Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sermon on Drones

On July 1, I led a worship service with my friend and fellow liturgist Susan Soric on drone warfare at Wellington Ave United Church of Christ in Chicago. Because we were close to the 4th of July, we decided to also connect this issue with a celebration of our interdependence.  We veered from the prescribed lectionary and chose texts that would help illuminate this new form of killing. Our texts were: Deuteronomy 30:19, Romans 12:4-5, and Mathew 26:51-55.

I began with Mathew's version of Jesus' last words in the garden before being taken away, his call for us not to retaliate violence with violence. I called my sermon, Warring Madness or Life playing off of that familiar hymn "On your people pour your power, cure your children's warring madness" and Deuteronomy's insistence that God has set before us both life and death and asks that we "choose life" so that "our descendant may live."

Here is an excerpt from my sermon:
“Put your sword back in its place for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” These are Jesus last words to us. Reject violence. In Luke’s version we get, “ Stop! No More of this!” Those who wish to follow the way are precluded from drawing the sword. There is no such thing as redemptive violence and there certainly is no thing as pre-emptive violence. Violence will beget violence. An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. Killing begets killing. Nukes beget more nukes and now drones will beget yet more drones.

The disciples ran away not only because of their fear of the impending violence from the imperial forces but they also ran to get away from the unarmed nonviolent Christ. And so have we.

We have been running, stockpiling, and now using un-manned robotic aerial vehicles, drones, to do our killing. We can do it from the safety of an airbase over 7,000 miles away--- that’s the distance from Creech airbase in Nevada to Afghanistan. We can do it comfortably by touching a button18 inches from our face. Drones are the ultimate action at a distance weapon as they allow the aggressor to destroy targets in Pakistan in-between sips of coffee.

Read the whole sermon on my blog

In our Communion liturgy after the sermon, we reminded ourselves that "With this bread we are not targeted "terrorists" or "collateral", that the "face of God includes all faces" and that "the voice of God rings in every voice." We reminded ourselves that "With this wine, Jesus' blood, God promises to stand with us and go before us, leading the way to liberation."

We ended with a benediction said in unison"Our Commitment to Another World Possible and On the Way. Half of the room said, "For the light of the spark of the divine in all of us..." while the other half responded with words like, "We commit ourselves to keeping our hearts open to the suffering of all those affected and killed by global wars of terror." And because "the world can't wait, we commit ourselves to work for, pray for, advocate for a world without war, a world where resources are shared and all the people have dignity and freedom."

The injustice, the horror, the unethical, immoral use of drones has to be addressed from the pulpit and in  our houses of worship. I invite those of you who are worship leaders to comment on ways you have or would like to preach about drones.

Image: Hear My Cry  by Patricia Sotarello and AFSC

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