by Lietta Ruger, lay preacher, St John's Episcopal Parish
As you know, I have son-in-law and nephew deployed in Iraq, so over this
past year I have taken particular interest in following the events of the times since 911 and the resulting war in Iraq.
Today is March 21st and do you know what yesterday was? March 20th, marking
the one year anniversary of the War in Iraq.
Do you know what happened yesterday? It was Global Action Day across the
world with the theme "We still say No to War" and there were assemblies in towns, states, and countries across the world.
Also, if you follow the news reports, yesterday the Methodist Church ruling
for the lesbian minister was a unanimous "not guilty" verdict from the church that she was not out of accord with the Methodist
Church view of Christian teachings.
What does this have to do with todays verses? In my mind, it is somehow
fitting that the verses on reconciliation would occur on the same weekend as these large scale world events with a united
voice representing reconciliation as a sign of hopefulness. And right now I sorely need some kind of indicators of HOPE being
still alive and in demand.
I have followed and researched and read so much material on the war as it
relates to politics, religion, social programs, national security, humanitarian needs and economic practices, that I feel
like I have taken a crash course in a college level curriculum I would label "ethics and values in time of war" 401. I came
across an area of study last week that pushed me over the edge into despair.
I'm going to take this opportunity that has been provided to me since it
is my turn to give the sermon and in preparing the sermon cause to reflect on the verses.................
First, I need to thank the guiding spirit and Wisdom that had me switch
Sundays with my husband, he gave the sermon last week when it was my turn and I am giving the sermon this week when it is
his turn. This parable of the Prodigal Son happens to be among his favorites, he references it frequently, so it is a peculiar
turn that I would wind up speaking on this today instead of him.
I will have a differnt take on this parable than my husband and I find it
interesting that it corresponds somehow to the world events this weekend.
We know the parable as the Father with 2 sons and how he gives them valued
resources to manage. One son goes out and squanders all the resources given him by the Father until he has depleted everything
and rendered himself totally impoverished.
Let's look at the resources the Creator has given us in life on this planet
- - all that we need is already here.
Everything to sustain life and flourish exists already. The problems we
bring upon ourselves seem to be more about distribution of the plentiful resources and stewardship in caring for the abundance
of this planet. We do have what we need, in place already, and it reflects poorly on us as a people of God in how we manage
these life-giving resources. I am speaking generally, of course, of all people across the globe and not specifically to our
church members, so with the tendency we have in our church to guilt ourselves, it is not my intent to deliver a guilting message
as much as offer something we share in common across all the spectrums, religion, country, patriotism, economy, politics,
In the words of Chief Seattle: We do not weave the web of life; we are but
a strand in the web; what we do to the web, we do to ourselves; we may be brothers after all.... those are wise words from
another culture of people in another period of history who adhere to a christian-based principle in their way of life outside
the benefit of knowing biblical teachings. One does have to be in awe sometimes at how Creator works in the hearts of mankind.
We might do well as a global nation to heed the wisdom of the Native American ways when it comes to stewardship of Mother
I'm going to tell you now about a devastating use of resources that affects
us all in every corner of the world. In the aggression of War in Iraq, back in 1991 and again now in Afghanistran and Iraq
and where-ever else our country may take the direction of these war efforts has truly released an evil in it's own right,
and I am very, very concerned it is a genie we cannot put back into the bottle. The military weapons being used contain Depleted
Uranium, which in effect is not depleted of anything and if anything is more concentrated uranium radiation. It is a material
used in the tanks, aircraft and munitions and when it is exploded it releases active uranium radiation into the air which
is breathed into the human body.
One article I read tries to show the significance of breathing in a drop
of this stuff as an equivalent to having 1 xray an hour, every hour for the rest of your life. The results are as devastating
as anything you ever saw or read from the 1950's and 1960's about atomic radiation.
The Gulf War 1 veterans from 1991 are now sick with radiation poisoning
to the point of being totally disabled by the ages of 30 and children being born to these veterans are with disfigurements
such as no arms, no legs, no ears, disfigured faces, organs that are not there or are not where they are supposed to be in
the human body. In Iraq, now, babies are being born that are so grotesquely malformed they do not resemble anything human.
This has been ongoing since 1991. Now in a few weeks our soldiers in Iraq
will be returning home after serving a year in Iraq and the replacement troops are being sent in to do their tour of duty
in Iraq. Approximately 150,000 troops will be coming home and approximately 200,000 troops will be sent in as replacements
and most of those will be Reserves which are not trained for active combat.
What is among the first things the returning soldiers are going to do when
they get home to their loved ones, wives, girlfriends?
And weeks or months from now there will be new conceptions, new births,
new babies, new generation. Our young now will quite likely meet and form
relationships with returning soldiers over the months and years to come, and quite likely begin families...it is human nature
to do so.
I am speaking now to our country, the USA; and what of all the other countries
that have sent troops? What of the civilians who have gone to Afghan and Iraq for non-military reasons and what of the Afghan
and Iraqi people themselves, and what of all that air-borne uranium radiation now floating around the world?
The beautiful resources given us have been so disrespected and abused and
mis-used that I hope when we realize how completely we have exhausted our resources, we will feel as the son in the parable
feels and return repentant and humbled to our Father believing we deserve no more than what is rationed to the low station
of the servants.
And I hope Father will welcome us and embrace us and restore to us what
we have carelessly squandered away in foolish endeavors. The brother in the parable who takes issue with the reconciliation
of the foolish son , the Father sets straight in telling him that which was lost has been found; that which is dead is alive
I hope with all my heart and it is about the last vestige of hope I have
that we as a global people of God will come to our senses and come home in humbleness of heart for our foolish wastefulness
of God's abundant resources and find what we have lost come alive again...that which we have made dead.
I pray this parable teaching of the Christ imprints itself in our hearts
and guides us all to reconciliation.
On a lighter note, I also pray the Great Mother, as mothers are prone to
do typically, will help us, the children to clean up the mess we have made.
Please today, remember the words I have tried to bring into focus - - Depleted
Uranium - - and do a little investigation for yourselves, share the information because no one else is sharing it with all
those who will be affected, have been affected. Give our young generations and new generations to come an "informed" chance
to nourish and help them bear the consequences of our present level of insane destruction.
And I do fervently pray for our President to hear the call and heed this
Christ-teaching, return to the Father's grace and lead us in life-giving rather than death-making pursuits, lead us to reconciliation.
In the Name of the One,
(thank you for indulging me in my plea of today's sermon)