Many churches in the small country towns where I grew up have large wooden boards af xed to the back wall. On these boards are recorded, usually in faded yellow-gold text, the names of soldiers who died in the World Wars. Often the names are listed directly under the words For God, King and Empire.
This kind of memorializing seems incongruous to me. Aus- tralia was a very new country with a small population when these wars occurred. We also have a long cultural suspicion of authority that goes back to the convict era. Remembering those who died in con ict is common and occurs in many countries —but to encompass that tragedy and violence under the British king and empire grates against the slightly rebellious Austra- lian spirit. Certainly many of the soldiers criticized the British hierarchy. More terrifying to me, however, is the blasphemous co-option of the God of Jesus Christ into this kind of memorial- izing. Using God to justify war is a distortion of our faith.
In Matthew 10 we read not of the establishment of grand kingdoms and empires but of a movement that will face perse- cution, usually enforced by the governors and kings. The con- fronting reality of Christian discipleship is that it puts us at odds with many human institutions—including our good citizenship to the state. Following Jesus demands an ultimate loyalty that makes everything else secondary. In the ancient world, Chris- tian faithfulness was met with persecution. Perhaps, however, in the so-called “Christian West” we have faced a more insidious problem. The state has generally not persecuted the church but rather co-opted God for its purposes. War and sacri ce in the name of God, king, and empire? Or forgiveness, peace, and sal- vation through God alone? We cannot choose both.

God of peace, may our highest loyalty be to your kingdom. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 9:35-38 , Read Matthew 10:1-23

Log In to leave a comment
Lectionary Week
June 12–18, 2017
Scripture Overview

Two threads run through all the readings. One is the claim that God is powerful over all things. Psalm 116 makes this claim most eloquently with its assertion that God “has heard my voice and my supplications.” The story of the promise of Isaac’s birth demonstrates that it is God and God alone who gives life. Matthew situates the call of the disciples within the larger context of Jesus’ mission and understands their work to be the consequence of God’s decision to send workers. Paul emphasizes God’s power by recalling that God’s act of reconciliation comes within the setting of human alien- ation and hostility. The second thread is that of the unworthiness of those whom God chooses.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7. When has God presented you with a laughable opportunity? What incredible offer would you like God to propose to you today?
• Read Psalm 100. How do you create a future of hope by recalling God’s faithful action on your behalf in the past?
• Read Romans 5:1-8. When have you looked for a superhero in a crisis situation? Who came to your aid?
• Read Matthew 9:35–10:23. What field of harvest is God calling you to? Do you yearn for wheat rather than potatoes? How do you go about an attitude adjustment?

Respond by posting a prayer.

Whitney Simpson offers a wide-open doorway into embodied practice and awakens us to the long-held wisdom of our tradition that our bodies are sacred places where God meets us and dwells. Fully Human, Fully Divine is a true Christmas gift!”

Click here to learn more about our newest Advent book and eCourse.