Weapons in the world

1st ucc – Carlisle                      7/14/19

Amos 5:21-24

 

How many people are family with Monty python’s Flying circus?  So some of you may not know that this is a group British individuals who did comedy skits for over a period of 5 years: 1969-1974.  They are also responsible for putting together several movies: meaning of life, life of Brian: and the Search for the Holy Grail.  One of the fundamental aspects to their skits and movies are absurd situations which they act with perfect seriousness.  One such skit that people may or may not be aware of is called the self defense class.  This is where John Cleese, one of the more well known names in this group teaches people how to defend themselves against attackers.  The crux of this class is all of the attackers are armed with fresh fruit as the weapons.  While this sounds silly beyond measure, the responses to these attacker are just as extreme, such as releasing a tiger to subdue the attacker, or release the 16 ton weight.  Now it is true, that this skit is silly and foolish, and I think we can agree that overall fresh fruit is generally not viewed as a weapon.  But I think we can essentially agree that there are weapons present in the world today perhaps we could take a little time this morning and talk about what is our duty when it comes to weapons being available in the world.

One of the first things that might come to mind when it comes to weapons is guns. These things can be used as weapons and could hurt others if someone had a mind to do it.  Of course, there are plenty of instances where guns and gun-owners do not hurt other people.  I am not looking to debate the second amendment this morning.

 

I would say this however, that in the case of any gun, safety measure need to be taken about the use and storage of guns.  We as a congregation might have some agreement on this. And there needs to be a secure and cautious way in which guns are purchased.  If responsible measures are taken, then I think there is a much smaller chance of guns being used as a weapon against people in non war situations.  I think the same things can be said for knives.

Guns and knives may be simple choices when it comes to identifying weapons.  There are other obvious choices, such as bombs, grenades, and pointed sticks, but I would like to go beyond the identification.  For instance, I would like to look at a substance that can be found in most places in the world.  Water.  It is a common resource and compound readily found in this world.  According to some statistics, About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water. Water also exists in the air as watervapor, in rivers and lakes, in icecaps and glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers, and even in you and your pet.1

Were people aware that Up to 60% of the human adult body is water.

Water is so easy to find and see.   And often we can remark on the beauty of water.  There are so many locations where people can and witness beauty, such as a tranquil lake, a slowly flowing river, a beautiful sunrise or sunset over a body of water.  The water that helps life in either human form or animal form, there are wonderful aspects to water.

Yet, there are significant dangers associated with water.  Did you know fast moving water just above your ankles can potentially knock you off your feet?    Several sources say that just Six inches of water can cause tires to lose traction and begin to slide. Twelve inches of water can float many cars. Two feet of rushing water will carry off pick-up trucks, SUVs and most other vehicles.  Water is beautiful but powerful and can do at a number of levels.  Think about how ocean waves can knock over people.  It is easy to think of the sizable waves that can toss people about , but even small waves contain such power so as to knock people over.  Then there is the strength that water possesses, to find ways to impact houses, to shift home foundations over time, to create cracks and fissures in concrete.  Depending on how we look at water, it can be a dangerous compound to people and possessions, and when combined with a storm, can do untold damage.  We may or may not be able to control water, but we have to recognize and respect its power and ability to perform damage.

There is beauty in this world, in its natural state, but we still have to come to terms with the potential destructive powers.  We must own our responsibility in our own lives and be aware of what can happen around us.  But along with being aware and vigilant for natural destructive powers, we must also come to term with other weapons which are close at hand.

There are weapons in this world beyond the ones mentioned so far.  Some of them can be found within ourselves.  There is the destructive power of words.  I remember as perhaps other people do that when we were little we were encouraged to say the follow sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me.  I think the suggestion here is that words have not malignant power.  This is just my opinion, but from what I have seen, I do believe words can have a destructive power, on individuals and communities.  I wonder if any of us have ever been devastated by words.  Words can be beautiful.  Whether they are spoken are written words can share so much.  Poetry, books, conversations can be beautiful and amazing.  And words can also be used to degrade, debunk and destroy.

 

Allow me to share a recent example of the destructive power of words.  People may not know the name Rev. Dr. Amy Butler.  She was the lead pastor of a prominent church in New York city.  She served there for four years, as the spiritual leader of this 1700 member congregation.  It has come to light that about a year ago someone left some items on her desk.  The items themselves could be viewed as gifts: for it was a shirt and a bottle wine.  And there were two words written on each of the presents.  One of the words could be construed as a kind word, a card word.  The second word however leaves no doubt as to the intent, the meaning behind the gifts and the message.  I am not going to share this second word in church because I am not comfortable doing that.  Suffice it to say that the message given with these words were derisive, harassing and destructive.  If anyone feels so inclined you can learn that words used by looking in the New York Times newspaper this week and reading more about the story.

I will share this:  The gifts and the message are just the beginning of this situation.  Because Rev. Dr. Amy Butler is no longer working at that community of faith.  And that church is struggling and the midst of conflict and challenges.  I believe I can say this with reservation, words can hurt, words can be used as weapons.

[This situation tells me that we must be aware of the weapons that come from our mouths.  Words spoken can impact not only ourselves and others.]

The scripture for Amos today calls the Israelite community into account.  They had been worshipping and going through the motions.  It appears as though they were complacent with their current status and not really involving themselves in anything beyond worship.  The words that come through Amos from God say that worship alone is not enough.  That words and actions are critical to living a life of faith and being in covenantal relationship with God.

So the people of Israel are being told to act and speak and live in such a way so as to honor god and God’ s call.  The people are to show love and care for the people around them, and to kindness and care to those in need.  The end of this passage speaks to the power which needs to be behind the actions of this passage But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.  I refer again to the power of water and its strength and I think we need to understand the force that needs to be behind these acts of kindness, these words of love, and these lives of faith God is calling not just the Israelites to live, but all of God’s children to follow

I want to speak about one more weapon today.  I learned about this potential weapon while in Alabama.  I read some words spoken at the Civil Rights Institute that Martin Luther King Jr shared during his ministry.  He spoke of using the weapon of love to address injustice and hate.  The weapon of love.  We can think of love as a quaint notion, as in a fairy tale or book.  But love is power and strength.  It can change situations, individual people and communities.  When I talk about the weapon of love I am not referring to love that involves abuse harassment or oppression.  I am not including abusive relationships can still supposedly have love in them, guilt can be something can show in relationship and can alter people in their lives.  This is not the sort of the weapon that I am speaking.  But let us look at love, true and compassionate love, and consider the transformative power love can have.  I am referring to the loving kindness that God for from the Israelites in the passage from the prophet Isaiah, that be as transformative as a powerful river, or water that is ever moving forward bringing forth change and transformation

Thanks be to God and may the people of God say together amen