Below is a powerful sermon about the above title! It was preached Sunday, April 3, 2022, at Good Shepherd New York, a church we have tuned into for much of the pandemic. It combines superb worship music, excellent preaching, and joyful affirmation of the best of “orthodoxy” in the context of American Evangelicalism. It is inclusive, challenging, and spiritually nurturing.
As indicated in the title and subtitle, we hear the story of Diana Oestreich‘s amazing conversion from waging war to waging peace, in the context of the Iraq War. Her sermon is powerful, and discusses also the current war in Ukraine.
Her story is also told in: Waging Peace: One Soldier’s Story of Putting Love First. We read of it:
Diana Oestreich, a combat medic in the Army National Guard, enlisted like both her parents before her. But when she was commanded to run over an Iraqi child to keep her convoy rolling and keep her battle buddies safe, she was confronted with a choice she never thought she’d have to make.
Torn between God’s call to love her enemy and her country’s command to be willing to kill, Diana chose to wage peace in a place of war. For the remainder of her tour of duty, Diana sought to be a peacemaker–leading to an unlikely and beautiful friendship with an Iraqi family.
A beautiful and gut-wrenching memoir, Waging Peace exposes the false divide between loving our country and living out our faith’s call to love our enemies–whether we perceive our enemy as the neighbor with an opposing political viewpoint, the clerk wearing a head-covering, or the refugee from a war-torn country. By showing that us-versus-them is a false choice, this book will inspire each of us to choose love over fear.
The first soldier convert to Christianity was Cornelius. A famous fourth-century convert was St. Martin of Tours. Like Diana Oestrich, he underwent a powerful redirection towards peace. We read:
Pacifism was the dominant stance for Christians from the time of Jesus until the late fourth and early fifth centuries. While some scholars conclude that Christians did not serve in the Roman army because of persecution, the witness of the Early Fathers tells us that Jesus’s command to “love your enemies” was the major reason for their refusal to shed blood. Even Roman soldiers converted to Christianity. St. Martin of Tours (316-397 CE) was representative when he stated, “Hitherto I have served you as a soldier, let me now serve Christ. . . I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.”
Proscriptions and exhortations against Christians participating in blood-letting are found throughout early Christian teaching. They include the Didache (composed between 70 and 90 CE), Justin Martyr (100-165 CE), Tertullian (160-220 CE), Origin (185-254 CE), Maximillian (274-295 CE), the Canons of Hippolytus (third to fifth centuries CE), and The Journal of Social Encounters 9 Pelagius (ca. 350-ca. 420 CE). We read in the Canons, for example, “Of the magistrate and the soldier: let them not kill anyone, even if they receive the order to do so; let them not put crowns on.” (An Overview of Four Traditions on War and Peace in Early Christianity)
For more on this website, please see: Peace and the Church. For a Ukrainian Children’s Choir singing for world peace (keep viewing for even more); and for a rendition of Amazing Grace with the Pope in relation to Ukraine and world peace, see further below.
For her sermon, please click on:
For the full video of the service she preached at, please click on:
YOU RAISE ME UP | This is so beautiful… Children’s choir from Ukraine sings for World Peace…
Pope Francis/Amazing Grace for Ukraine