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Nov 11, 2018 | Rev Dave Buerstetta

Ultimate War or Excelsior?

To paraphrase one of our great musician-philosophers, “Infinite war, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!”


But in the whole of human history, what has been more constant than war? Further, many of us were taught history, both of our country and of the world, through a series of wars. War seems to define us.


On the other hand, to paraphrase one of our great warrior-philosophers, “My faith's in people, I guess

…And I'm happy to say that, for the most part, they haven't let me down. Which is why I can't let them down either.” Maybe war doesn’t have to define us.

This week the Narrative Lectionary lands us right in the middle of a conflict between Judah and Assyria (parts of Isaiah chapters 36 & 37). In the story as told by the book of Isaiah, we get — as we might expect from countries in the midst of armed conflict — propaganda, posturing, and promises of the use of deadly force. We get rebuke, lament, and indecision. 

Then, finally, we are allowed a peak at a very different way, a much better way. Perhaps the only true way: The way of peace. No, not just peace as in absence-of-conflict, but true, whole peace. Or, to use one of the biblical term for this idea: Shalom (Isaiah 2:1-4). 

Or, as still another alternative word one might use in this situation: Excelsior!


Ok, ok, so “excelsior” means “ever upward,” which is not exactly the same thing as peace. But it seems to be in the neighborhood. So in which (rhetorical) neighborhood will we choose to live: “Might makes right” like the Assyrians? Or “We’re all doomed” like Hezekiah? Or…could we find a third way?

Pastor Dave will explore that possible third way of living in the world this Sunday, November 18th in his sermon, “Infinite War or Excelsior?”