Today the Beatitude on schedule is "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the
children of God." I remember very vividly, when I was probably
twelve years old, sitting with my dad in the car and he was driving into town,
and I asked him, for reasons I don't recall, "Dad, where do wars come
from?" And he said, "oh somebody gets mad at somebody and so they
fight each other, and they tell their friends and their friends join them, and
pretty soon you've got a bunch of people fighting a bunch of people." Oh.
And then he told me the story, he said much of it comes from pride and all of
which I don't think would apply to the war we're in today. But I'll never
forget the story. It was one of the funniest stories about the lion and the
elephant. The lion is the king of the jungle, of course, and he would roar
through the jungle. And he said who's the king of the jungle? And the giraffe
would bend his long neck. And the deer would bow their knees to him. Until he
came to the elephant, and "who's the king of the jungle?" And the
elephant never said a word. He just looked, dropped his trunk, picked up the lion,
lifted him high and slammed him against a mountain. The lion recovered shook
his head, said to the elephant, "Just because you didn't know the answer,
you didn't have to get so mad." So.
Well there are a lot of wars that stem from power and control. And it is the
power and the control over helpless innocent people that are given such
physical abuse by Saddam Hussein that provoked this war. The beatitude, "Blessed are the peacemakers. They shall be called the
children of God." Who are the peacemakers?
Well, they're not necessary the people who are always talking about peace every
time there's a conflict.
I had a friend; still have a friend, who is a friend even though we disagree on
this point. He is an extreme pacifist and I am not. And I said, but you know,
pacifism as you preach it, and the way you talk about it, John, you're not
building anything. You're not creating anything. You're not solving any of the
problems that have provoked the war to begin with. If you stop the shooting and
the killing, what have you done? You haven't gotten to the root of the problem.
We have to be possibility thinking peacemakers.
And that is we look at those who are destructive against humanity and the human
race and try to stop them,hopefully without killing. But what if it comes to
It was Eldon Trueblood, probably the greatest philosopher in America in the
twentieth century, a friend of mine. He taught philosophy at Earlham College in
Indiana and he was a pacifist. He was a Quaker. Earlham is a Quaker school. Until
he ran into a problem and he realized that absolute pacifism is immoral. He put
it this way. If you want to read it, it's in "Alternatives to
Futility" and probably can be found in your bookstore.
He said, people ask me is it ever right to kill. And I say that's the wrong
question. The right question is oftentimes, who should be given the privilege
of continuing to live? If a man comes in with a gun to kill my daughter, and
then he's going to rape my wife and when he has raped her, and finished, he'll
shoot her and kill her. And if I am available with a gun and can stop him and
do not stop him, I have made a decision. The
decision is who should have the privilege of continuing to live. My wife or the
rapist and the murderer?
And frequent when it comes down on that level of ethics and morality, Trueblood
said, "there is a place for pacifism to be silent and step aside and look
at the deeper issue, not is war wrong, but what if we don't have war and allow the worst of all continue to live and prosper."
A peacemaker is a builder, a builder of
character, a builder of relationships, a builder of friendships. Wow. A
peacemaker is someone who looks where there is.. and brings reconciliation,
provokes forgiveness and mutual understanding. That's what a peacemaker is. And
that's what Jesus did. And that's why He was called the Prince of Peace. Beautiful.
So who is a peacemaker? What are their characters? Number one, I've noticed
that peacemakers are not swift, impetuous, and impertinent, impulsive to take
sides in a bloody controversy. More often than not, they will observe. And they
look for the path that leads to constructive and creative results to a better
world, a better community, a better society. They take the path that leads to
the greater positive possibilities.
You know, this text harps on my favorite Bible verse which you know from my
ordination, is Isaiah 58:12, "You shall be called the repairer of the
breach and the restorer of paths to dwell in." Be a bridge builder.
How do you build bridge? You remember the story. They wanted to build a bridge
over the Niagara River. They couldn't, the cliffs were so deep, and the water
was so wild that not humanly possible to put a boat across, or do nothing. And
so that was settled as an accepted geographic impossibility. Nobody thought of
it, until a little boy (this is a true story) a little boy said, I can fly my
kite across and he did. Then he tied a bigger rope to the kite rope and pulled
it across, and a bigger rope to that rope and a little boy with a kite was the
When there is conflict, I'm not talking now about Iraq and America in conflict.
I'm talking about you! Where you live! Where you are! In your family! In your
business! In your own internal conflicts of personality. We're all human
beings. How can I help you? Fly a kite! Stretch a cord across and build
relationships that way. "Blessed are the
peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God." Yes, always
look for the possibility of reducing the conflict somehow, someway.
One of the most inspiring characters in the history of music in America, now
I'm talking of the name of Roland Hays. But Roland Hays was a black man, and
his father died when the tree he was sawing down fell on top of him and he was
Left a widow with 3 little children, and they tried to make a living raising
cotton on 15 acres of ground. They couldn't make it happen anymore and she
said, boys, we're going to leave. We're going to go to Nashville. And so they
sold for a few pennies, their dollars and they went. She had a horse, she had a
wagon, she rode the wagon and the boys walked on foot behind for 60 miles.
There he went to a school, and he heard a recording of music. The singers were
a Caruso and Melba. He never heard sounds like that coming out of a human
voice.. body before. And he said to his mother I'm going to become a singer. He
had a good voice. And he finally moved to Boston. Nobody would pay attention to
him, he was a nobody. And so he made a decision to personally rent the biggest
auditorium in Boston. Most prestigious. And he sold tickets for a dollar fifty
cents in one of the most amazing marketing stories I've ever read. He managed
through letters to rich people, and they quoted others to sell out the house.
And he went over with a standing ovation, and he began to find himself. Well,
then the money he made he decided to go to Africa and find out where he came
from. What was his tribe? His father said don't ever forget we are from a
tribal chief. We got blood in our veins. Royal blood. He went on his way to
Africa he ran out of money in London, and was stalled, and a friend that he
knew, knew the pastor at Royal Chapel and said would you sing for our pastor on
Sunday morning and he said yes.
And he sang. And he got a call the next day. Did you see the morning paper? No.
Well guess what? You know who was in your audience yesterday? It was the king
and the queen. Really? They're asking for a command performance. So he had a
command performance in the palace, and who should be in the private audience,
but Caruso and Melba, the two persons that inspired him to sing.
He became an international celebrity. Then he got the invitation to top them
all. To sing in the Beethoven Hall in Berlin! Greatest place you could possibly
be invited to perform.
When he arrived in Berlin, only the day before the promoter said you can't
sing. Why not? This is Beethoven's Palace, and France and Germany are at each
other's throats. France took over the Rhine from Germany, and they're holding
their positions with solders that are all black, and you're black. Today's
climate you cannot sing, you have to cancel the concert. He said I'll pray
He prayed about it and he held the concert. He said I'll hold it. When he
walked onto the stage, when he walked onto the stage, the place was standing
room only. His pianist was also black, his friend. And then suddenly the
hissing started, and the booing and then things were being thrown to hit him.
It was horrendously humiliating. He kept his hands together, looked up and
prayed. What shall I do? And he nodded to his pianist, made a signal. The
signal was get the music of "This Is My Peace," a Beethoven number.
So while the hissing was still going on and they were trying to drive him out
the piano music started to filter through the auditorium and the people all
recognized, this is Beethoven, and they quieted down. "This Is My
Peace," they recognized the number. And then that huge, big, round, deep,
powerful voice began to sing it and they heard it like they had never heard it.
And when it was finished people were on their feet, and they were applauding.
His goal, he would write later in his life, always was to try to bring peace
wherever I went. Always I was in controversy. Always in conflict. And always I
tried to bring peace. "Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called
the children of God.
Who are these peacemakers? Well today I have no doubt that those who wear the
uniform of America in Iraq are peacemakers. You say, but they're making war.
Well, peacemakers pay a price. The path to peace will
probably always take you through a danger zone. I don't think you can
find more sincere peacemakers in the world today than the troops of the
coalition, at least those from America that are in Iraq today. They made a
choice, who should live, a man like Saddam Hussein, who puts the eyes out, cuts
tongues out and his merciless and cruel and brutal as Hitler ever was. Should
he have the privilege to live? Or families. God bless
our peacemakers. May the war come swiftly to an end with victory for
freedom and may American soldiers do what we've done all our history, give
candy to the babies, a hug to the families, and come home without taking any
land or treasures that belong to the people.
How do you become a peacemaker? Well, you've got to live at peace with yourself
first. Many of you don't. You've got to live at peace
with God. Many of you don't. That means you have to get connected with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,
who will love you, accept you, forgive you, and hug you and then you'll feel
loved by God, when you know that God loves you and will take care of you.
You'll be a peacemaker that dares to face the dangers that must be faced to
bring conflict to an end.
Just a few hours ago, Neita Armstrong, you all heard us talk about Neita
because she's one of the elders of this church. She's a mother of a
twelve-year-old. And she's a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps. And she
was one of the first to be deployed to Kuwait. Just this morning, here it came,
"My dearest C.C. Crystal Cathedral friends and family. You aren't going to
believe this. No kidding. What should fly into our tent last night, but a
sparrow, right during the missile alert. We could hear the missile go over our
heads, scary sound. And the sparrow came into our tent and stayed the night
there. I knew why she was here. I needed her. And then when someone asked
what's the big deal about a sparrow, Neita? The Christian girls in our tent
simultaneously burst into our own rendition of I sing because I'm happy. I sing
because I'm free. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. And not
until the dawning did the little bird leave. Happy Sunday to all of you.
Let's pray. It's a beautiful day God. You are here. We love You. You love us.
We pray that You will be especially with the American soldiers. Grant peace
with the minimum of accident injury and loss of life. And bring freedom and
comfort and good food and good living to the beautiful people of Iraq. May they
enjoy freedom like we do. Now, we go out tomorrow, God, and may our faces
shine, that people can see wow, you went to church yesterday didn't you,
they'll say. And with a moist eye, we'll say, yes, God was there, and I bring
you His peace. Amen.
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you. May
the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. And may God
give you His peace in your going out and in your coming in; in your lying down
and in your rising up; in your labor and in your leisure; in your laughter and
in your tears until you come to stand before Jesus in that day in which there
is no sunset and no dawning. Amen.