Recently I was asked to join in a project related to the U.S. war in Iraq. The Proper 29 Project grows out of recent WikiLeaks revelations called the "Iraq War Logs." (WikiLeaks is an organization that publishes classified information from all over the world.) The "Iraq War Logs" is a collection of almost 400,000 U.S. army field logs. Many of the documents detail our complicity in the torture and death of Iraqi civilians from 2004 to 2009. It appears that little has been done to address any of the abuses which is puzzling. And there seems to be little public reaction. Why? Have we just moved on? Iraq is behind us and now it's "on to Afghanistan?"
Mennonite Pastor Isaac Villegas has called on other pastors to speak out against the violence. However, several pastors have told Villegas that such a word would not be welcome in their churches. Villegas noted, "It's hard here in North Carolina. Our economy is tied to the military-industrial complex. Preaching about the suffering caused by U.S. forces in Iraq hits too close to home in a state that has such a high military population."
On November 21 (which is Proper 29 on the liturgical calendar--hence the name for the project), as we bear witness in the Christian Church to the Reign of Christ, it seems appropriate to bear witness also to what comes with the reign of empire. And since most of us, if not all of us, have an investment in empire, words of gospel peace may be not only difficult to utter but hard to hear.
I invite prayers for wisdom and discernment as pastors and lay leaders around the country seek the words to call our government to accountability, to healing, to reconciliation and to peace.