Auditing Through Preaching

Catchim says ‘the Auditor incorporate(s) “criticizing” people, when they feel they go “off-script”, with clearly “verbalizing” their criticism’ through their preaching.

I remember being asked to speak, by a friend, at his large Brethren Church. It was sometime after the invasion of Iraq and I had been praying for an opportunity to speak in a church about the invasion. When my friend gave me the specific text on which he wanted me to preach that Sunday morning, I felt this was my moment.

The verses I was asked to preach on were from Micah 4:1-4 which read:

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
and many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

So when I began to preach I critiqued American interventionist foreign policy and Australia’s willing complicity with an illegal ‘shock and awe’ invasion, that led to the deaths of over hundred thousand innocent civilians; and I contrasted it with God’s foreign policy – committed to international mediation, restorative justice and sustainable peace – ‘judging between many peoples’; ‘arbitrating between strong nations’; encouraging them ‘to beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks’; preventing ‘nation from lifting up sword against nation’; making sure the nations ‘learn war no more’; so that all peoples can ‘sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees: and no one shall make them afraid.’ And I asked, why do so many of us, who claim to be ‘God’s people’, not oppose the Coalition’s program for aggression and support God’s plan for reconciliation?

As I was preaching I noticed people leaving. To begin with, one or two walked out; then groups of three and four; then whole rows of people headed for the door. When I had lost a third of the congregation I said to them that if they wanted to leave that was okay by me. But, if they decided to stay, they needed to know, that I wouldn’t take it as a sign of agreement, but a gesture of courtesy, being willing to listen to a someone they disagreed with. After I said that, and it was clear, staying did not mean agreement, most of the congregation resumed their seats and stayed.

At the end of the service, when I went to the door to talk with people on their way out, no one from the church would talk with me. Actually, in point of fact, one person did talk to me, but she turned out to be a visitor like me. My friend, who had invited me, came up from downstairs, where he had been conducting kids church, only to discover I had managed to alienate everybody in his church. And he said to me, ‘I love you Dave, but I will never be able to invite you back after this debacle!’

Dave Andrews

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