by Bob Wickizer

Sermon Easter 5
Bob Wickizer
Acts 1:15-17,21-16; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19
28 May 2006

Church and State verse

On this day when we read scripture about the ascension of Jesus to heaven and include a liturgy about prisoners of war for Memorial Day observance, it is helpful to clarify the separation of church from state giving thanks for both while taking care to cast our hope ONLY on that which gives us ultimate hope, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

First some disclaimers: I never served in the military. In the first draft lottery during Viet Nam, I missed being drafted by two numbers. My father served as a captain in the Army Air Force during World War II earning the bronze and silver stars along the way.

While I am thankful for the sacrifices our veterans have made in order for me to enjoy the freedom that I have, I never personally paid the price for those freedoms. I did choose to accept a calling to ordained ministry and I have some familiarity with sacrifice and service.

In our twenty first century world when people in other parts of the globe want their religious laws to govern every aspect of life, and where religion is used as a pretense for slaughter we need to be absolutely clear about what parts of our actions are governed by the state and what parts are governed by our faith. Without that clarity we run the risk of appearing to be not much different than the radical fundamentalists in other faiths who we oppose.

What are some of the danger signs today? When we have religious leaders arguing forcibly for displaying religious laws such as the Ten Commandments in public courthouses. When we have religious leaders telling people how to vote from the pulpit. When we have political parties using individual church mailing lists. When we have politicians who exploit religious sentiments of the people and who themselves are not involved with any faith community. These are the danger signs that the line separati ...

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