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What if…

May 4, 2010

What if Thursday, May 6 was National Day of…

1.  turning the other cheek to the evil person (Matthew 5:39)

2.  beating our weapons into farm implements (Isaiah 2:4)

3.  loving our enemies and praying for those that persecute us (Matthew 5:44)

4.  loving our neighbors as ourself (Mark 12:28-31)

5.  selling everything we have, giving to the poor and following Jesus (Mark 10:21)

6.  having no other gods before Yahweh (Exodus 20:3)

7.  “I hate all your show and pretense–the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies…”   (Amos 5:21)

8.  doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)

9.  treating the alien who resides among us as a citizen…of loving the alien as ourselves… (Leviticus 19:34)

10.  asking God to forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4)

11.  confessing our sins one to another that we  may be healed (James 5:16)

12.  trusting in God rather than military might (Psalm 20:7)

13.  sharing our daily bread

14.  reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18)

15.  proclaiming the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15)

What if…

we would gather around a cross rather than a flag

What if…

we would listen rather than speak

What if…

Jesus’ kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2010 11:10 am

    You just gave utterance to the groaning I felt as the day approaches. What if we would stop using religion to grapple for political power and give up the fight for public approval?

    May I post your article on my blog?

  2. just an apprentice permalink
    May 4, 2010 12:50 pm

    Becca,
    Feel free to post this on your blog.
    Brian

  3. Cheryl permalink
    May 5, 2010 9:57 pm

    Brian, I don’t know….I am confused w/ the inflection that I hear in your words.While I agree with your 15 points, I sense that you are somehow troubled by the day of prayer. What am I missing? I have always felt good about praying for our leaders/government etc. I am starting to become very confused….maybe frustrated, too.

    • Cheryl permalink
      May 5, 2010 10:11 pm

      I pondered over this again. I guess I just haven’t thought as deeply about the implications of the “national day of prayer” as you have. Maybe I am not a true anabaptist afterall?? Hmmm! I need to really sort out some of this in my head. I didn’t think that praying like this for our country made me guilty of not doing all those things listed in your blog. Am I reading too much into this? So I presume that you could / would not attend the National Day of Prayer at LBC, because of the implications of your attendance. I hope I can sleep tonight. Maybe I need to stop reading these blogs! Ha! :)

  4. just an apprentice permalink
    May 6, 2010 5:38 am

    Cheryl,
    Thanks for your questions. I would offer a few responses and more questions:

    1. What if my concerns and questions are not just a result of having done some thinking about how a Christendom mindset has seeped into the expectations of Christians for government? What if the questions and concerns are being stirred by the Holy Spirit and engagement with Scripture? I really appreciate your willingness to be open about the frustration that my words produce for you. I appreciate your direct communication with me. That allows for more healthy communal discernment around Scripture and the Spirit. Keep it up!

    2. We are called, as Christians to pray for government leaders (of this nation and and all nations). We do so every week at SMC. My concerns are not at all directed at the desire to pray for government leaders. My concerns are with the invisible assumptions that surround the NDP. Rather than suggesting what some of those might be, I would prefer to get at them in the form of questions.

    a.) I can support NDP gatherings that are willing to pray for all that Jesus calls us to be as Christians. If we cannot pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as in heaven and then look to Jesus as the primary model for how that happens, then I’m not sure we are even praying with the Spirit. This is harsh, but I ask you to consider it. I see evidence that we might be praying for another kingdom to come (without recognizing it). If we take Jesus’ words and actions seriously as Christians, if we don’t reduce the significance of Jesus to his death on the cross and resurrection, than our prayers will be shaped very differently. We will pray for righteousness and peace, justice and truth to be expressed in this world.

    b. How do those who gather for NDP see the Church? How are Christians called to be a part of the answer to the prayers we offer as we give ourselves to Jesus and his Church? Do we see the Church as the primary way God is bringing about healing and hope in the world? What is the role of government in God’s salvation Story? What would it look like for our country (government officials and laws) to follow Jesus? With the separation of Church and State is that even possible?

    c. What would happen if we would gather around a cross instead of a flag on NDP? Jesus was crucified by the Empire of his time…on a Roman cross. I have a hard time imagining Jesus gathering with his disciples around a symbol of Roman power and praying for some “Christianization” of the system. How would Jesus pray for our government? Did Jesus pray for the Roman empire he was under?

    I think Christians who pray for our country on NDP are well-motivated, but have not fully considered the implications of Jesus life and ministry for the ruling Powers of this world. You say you are perhaps not a good Anabaptist. Whether that label is helpful or not to the discussion is debatable. I submit to you that it is more about how seriously we will take the words and actions of Jesus as Christians gather for prayer today. The stirring of the Spirit within me is that most prayers and activities today will have a tendency to not focus too much on the teachings of Jesus as we pray for this country. If prayers were shaped out of the radical teachings of Jesus, I would be more comfortable gathering together with other Christians and seeking to embody those together as salt and light communities seeking first the kingdom of God.

    It is all about Jesus. This is not about some deep theological issue with words that are too big to understand. Nor is it about some sectarian group which refuses to pull it’s weight in the project of nation building (i.e. being a true anabaptist). It is about how we imagine the kingdom of God coming on earth and whether or not it has anything to do with the Sermon on the Mount.

    If you go to a prayer gathering today somewhere around Lancaster County, I invite you to listen for words that indicate a willingness to live in a way that is aligned with the kingdom that Jesus talked about. Concrete examples would be helpful.

    Blessings on your day and may God’s Kingdom come today on earth…in Lancaster County as it is in heaven!

    Brian

  5. May 8, 2010 3:35 pm

    Found your site recently via a friend. Love this … I was thinking some of the same thoughts on Thursday.

    • just an apprentice permalink
      May 9, 2010 5:18 pm

      Thanks for sharing Janet!

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