In my Christian stream, I hardly saw a flag in a worship space, but there were always folks in the pews for whom Memorial Day was personal – not because they were American (although maybe that, too), but because of the memory they were keeping of an absent loved one. Someone whose absence might be evoked by a flag or a holiday, but more likely by a bed that stays made, or an un-cancelled magazine subscription, or three instead of four settings at the table for a meal.
Pastoral sensitivity to those folks was partly responsible for our movement’s difficulty agreeing on a position on military action after World War II. By now, there are probably plenty of churches in our family who honored military losses on Sunday in some form, even though our earliest generations (of Christians in general, too) would not have considered it.
Since reading Rich Mouw’s When the Kings Come Marching In, I’ve been compelled by the vision of final repurposing and reconstruction he gives through Isaiah 60. All these warring governments and tools of destruction – could they be brought into the New Jerusalem, into God’s reconciling work? “Perhaps missiles will become play areas for children,” Mouw writes. While recognizing this is no easy answer, he still asserts, “All of the commercial and technological and military ‘stuff’ that we see around us still belongs to the world that God has made and will someday redeem.”
For all my ideas about war and peace (or the afterlife, for that matter), I am moved by John Gorka‘s “Let Them In Peter.” Because whatever my position on the issue, my great hope is that there is a seat at the Table for me and for them, and for those they’ve left behind, and every one of us reconstructed.
It’s a good day to pray that no more would be lost. It’s a good day to remember I’m part of God’s idea that nothing is lost to him, and so no one is lost to me. It is a good day to commit to the constructive work of imagining peace with our theological opponents, and remember that some have been lost to those battles, as well.
Let them in, Peter,
They are very tired
Give them couches where the angels sleep
And light those fires
Let them wake whole again
To brand new dawns
Fired with the sun
Not wartime’s bloody guns
May their peace be deep
Remember where the broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were
To have to die
God knows how young they were to have to die