A Case Illustration

Labor Day Weekend Worship

On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, intern Serena led worship while her supervisor was at a conference. Serena was surprised when the worship committee chose to decorate the communion table with two American flags, a cross that was decorated with dog tags, and army boots.

When the supervisor returned, he and the intern reflected on what occurred.

Intern:  I wish you had been there.  I wasn’t sure how to respond—and frankly, I was annoyed—but I went ahead and preached the sermon I had written on peace.  I made sure I stressed that God loves all people no matter what country they are from and I did not refer to the military paraphernalia.  I did mention that we have special people who serve in each country as soldiers but that it is our hope we all will be able to live in peace.

Supervisor:  Well, that was not an easy situation to handle.  You had something very unexpected thrown at you at the last minute and that can be distracting—and disturbing.  Let me ask you this: Why do you think the worship committee decorated the communion table in this way?

Intern:  I have no idea. It just seems to me to be a glorification of war.

Supervisor: Is there another way to look at military personnel other than as agents of violence?

(Intern thinks a moment.)

Intern: I guess their service is a vocation too.  I just am so worried about perpetuating violence that I shy away from supporting any form of war.   Do you think they seek peace, too?

Pastor:  I think you are on to something. Perhaps some service members do have a desire for peace.  To protect and defend and make sure violence does not overcome good is certainly one way people think they can make peace.  What might another option be?

Intern:  Maybe the items on the communion table reminded them of loved ones who served in the military.  I think I missed an opportunity to include them in the prayers of the people.