This weekend, in the U.S., churches will be filled with civil religion as the civil part of the liturgical year (Memorial Day to Thanksgiving), as practiced here, kicks off.
Suggestions for what not to do this weekend if you are among those who will be preaching and choose to make some reference to the U.S. holiday/ holy-day:
1. Do not glorify war. Consider using a quote from a war-seasoned expert about war. Eisenhower, for instance, said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”
2. Do not sacralize war. War is not a holy enterprise, a crusade led by God and God’s representatives on earth, but a human project caused by failures and full of evils, no matter what its rationale or outcome.
3. Do not make war salvific or Christian by misapplying Jesus’ statement in John 15:3 about his own loving death and about radical discipleship (“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”) to war-deaths.
4. Do not let anyone leave the church thinking that any nation is the kingdom of God, or that any nation deserves the unqualified allegiance and praise due to God alone.
5. Do not let anyone leave the church thinking that there is anything more important than worshiping God and following Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.
6. Do not let anyone leave the church thinking, “Man, that was a great sermon about this great country and our great wars!”
And one thing to do:
Make sure everyone leaves the church knowing it is Easter season and Pentecost is around the corner! It is the season of life and peace and promise.