FreerangeFriday: Peacemaking and the 4th of July

by Lilly Lewin

By Lilly Lewin

Tomorrow is the 4th of July in the United States… the day we celebrate the declaration of Independence from Britain.

The day we celebrate becoming a country… 13 colonies so diverse it almost didn’t happen.

The day we tend to eat hot dogs and potato salad and watch fireworks with family and friends.

And celebrate.

For several years, I’ve had mixed emotions about the 4th of July. And this year, I definitely don’t feel much like celebrating.

I believe our country needs much help.

The COVID-19 cases are growing.

The hatred and bigotry is more pronounced.

Sadly, conflict abounds over simple things that should bring us all together.

If i am honest, I am grieving for our country.

And praying for eyes to see and ears to hear and for hearts to be open to love as Jesus loves.

My heart is to see people filled with compassion not greed!

My hope is that justice can truly roll down like mighty waters… and we can all become makers of peace!

When I see flags this weekend, I am using them as reminders to pray for America and all its broken parts!

When I hear firecrackers going off, I’m praying against all the injustice that is exploding around us and praying for healing for things we don’t even see that cause so much pain… poverty, illness, suffering, abuse. etc.

How can you pray for our country this week? And if you live outside of America, please pray for your own community and country, but please pray for us too.

Our country and the world is going through much trauma right now.

What things are your grieving? What are you mourning ?
What things do you wish would change?

What things are you carrying that you need to give to JESUS to carry for you?

What things are you grateful for today?

Take time to Pray for leaders in our country.

Pray also for your own city and state officials. They are trying to figure all of this out.

TALK TO JESUS about all of these things.

“TO WHOM DO I PLEDGE MY ALLEGIANCE?” (below) is an article by my friend Jon Huckins. He is the co-director of the Global Immersion Project, an organization that works at peacemaking both in the states and abroad, and asks the question:

What would the world look like if the Church took seriously our call to be peacemakers?

“TO WHOM DO I PLEDGE MY ALLEGIANCE?

It goes without saying that we are living through precarious and historic times.

2020 began with a global pandemic that has now taken so much sacred life and disrupted the health and livelihood of so many others. Even as we’ve experienced unifying moments of solidarity, there is a growing chorus of partisan talking points that are being used to politicize what should be a shared struggle.

Everyday Peacemakers are stepping into these hard conversations with generosity and understanding. 

Then, we had another tragic series of black people being murdered at the hands of law enforcement. The cries of 400 years of grief, exploitation and trauma have entered the streets and public square in ways reminiscent of the Civil Rights era. Simultaneously, some white leaders and pastors are digging in their heals to maintain systems of White Supremacy while others are following the Spirit on the courageous and long-overdue journey toward healing and collective restoration.

Everyday Peacemakers are stepping onto the streets and into pulpits to disrupt the pseudo “peace” for the sake of God’s liberating and restorative peace. 

And now, we are on the eve of “Independence Day” while so many of our sisters, brothers, neighbors and fellow United States citizens are on the streets praying, pleading and lamenting the fact that many of us are still not free. Their cries echo the lamentations of the People of God in our Hebrew Scriptures pleading for God’s deliverance from the systems of occupation and oppression. These cries parallel the urgent lament of Frederick Douglass when speaking to white folks about “Independence Day” in 1852:

“Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…”

What does it look like for Everyday Peacemakers to celebrate the 4th of July when, as followers of Jesus, our primary allegiance is to the kingdom of God? This question forces us to ask a second important discipleship question: “To which kingdom do I pledge my allegiance?”

As the cries of those on the underside of power grow louder (or we just begin to hear the cries that have been there all along), Everyday Peacemakers are to be on the front lines of systemic restoration engaging the political institutions of the nation-state. Peace isn’t only about relational restoration, it’s also about societal restoration. The good news of the kingdom of God announced BOTH personal and social restoration. Moments like these expose deeply embedded systemic brokenness and the need for its dismantling to resurrect something new.

The answer to the above question is clear: our allegiance is pledged only to the kingdom of God and the Jesus who embodies it. But, that is not an excuse for apathetic withdrawal from engaging the systems and structures as Everyday Peacemakers. Although citizens of the kingdom, we must also leverage our influence as United States citizens on behalf of those on the underside of power and, as part of a democracy, we (thankfully!) have that option.

In doing so, this Fourth of July, we must embrace a Conflicted Allegiance. A conflicted allegiance liberates us to unapologetically give our lives to the values of the kingdom of God, while continually discerning our constructive engagement, support and participation in the United States. A conflicted allegiance reminds us that the Church is meant to be the soul, not the surrogate of the State.

It means we stand with and care for the people fleeing violence on our border AND we leverage our influence in the United States to help fix the broken systems that’s keeping them from finding refuge.

It means we look our neighbors on the streets in the eye to honor their humanity AND we stand in city council meetings advocating for systems to support their healing.

It means we stand in solidarity with our Black and Indigenous friends AND we vote for policy that upends institutionalized racism.

This stuff isn’t easy, but it’s the necessary way to find and follow Jesus in the midst of living in a culture so partisan, political and polarized. 

On July 4th, we will celebrate and live a Conflicted Allegiance.

Will you join us?”  Check out more about The Global Immersion Project today!

Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers.” This weekend, Take some time to consider what being a PEACEMAKER means to you… how can you truly live into being a peacemaker in your neighborhood, in your city and in your country? What will it take for peacemaking to be a reality, not just a bible verse for you and me?

And check out Mending the Divides by Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart for more on peacemaking!

©lillylewin and freerangeworship.com

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1 comment

Char Reehm July 6, 2020 - 9:29 pm

Thank you for highlighting our son-in-law, Jon Huckins.

Reply

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