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A Christmas Message By Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick

 

“Do You Hear what I Hear?”

“Do You Feel what I Feel?”

“Do You See what I See?”

 

A sound was heard in Ramah,

Weeping and much lament.

Rachel weeping for her children,

Rachel refusing all solace,

Her children gone,

dead and buried.

Matthew 2:18 (The Message)


A Christmas Message By Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick 

 

       “Merry Christmas!” The words fell from my lips like a heavy thud on the floor. I knew what was happening. I was crossing the Rubicon. (To cross the Rubicon is a phrase indicative of a person moving from one place to another, yet believing he will never be able to go back to where he was. I suggest you look up the phrase “crossing the Rubicon” on Wikipedia if you have not heard of it.)  

         Dr. Theresa Duhart helped press this button. She emailed me yesterday about when she might receive a “Christmas message” to the CME Church. I had not written one yet, and did not know what angle to take, but I promised her a time it would come today. 

         The “Merry Christmas” greeting mentioned above was the one uttered as I arose from bed and saw my wife for the first time this morning. Sunday the 24h of December had been a very busy and exhausting day for me; I wanted to sleep longer this morning. So my “Merry Christmas” greeting did not and would not hide my “not yet there” spirit. 

         What was wrong? I knew what it was. I am wearying of the barbaric killing of the Palestinians in Gaza, some of whom have to be innocent. And what I also know about myself is that the challenge to write unmasks my hypocrisies and challenges my inconsistencies. Why kill the children? Why indiscriminately aim missiles and weapons knowing that children and others who are innocent will die? Why this slaughter of more than 20,000 people because someone has killed 2,000 Israelis? 

         Someone said today, as I mentioned my grieving the killing of the children, “But I know they are God’s chosen people.” Let me be even more transparent: I cannot and do not equate the Israel formed as a nation in 1948 to the Israel of the Bible. There it is. I do not believe God chooses a nation and “hangs with” that nation no matter what it does! So I am concerned that a nation goes to war and devastates a land and a people by brutally and barbarically killing those people’s young, and I cannot see God behind that. No nation, no people, owns an eternal claim on God. God is sovereign. The Israel of the Bible was a loosely confederate group of people who agreed in principle to be a theocracy. The Israel formed in 1948 is a fledgling democracy at best, but certainly not a theocracy (a government adhering or seeking to adhere to the principles of God). And neither are we (the U.S.) a theocracy. 

         What will be the end to this present season of brutal killings of the innocent? Who or what will pay the price? 

I watched the news as a Palestinian in Gaza mourned aloud the wife whose body was now in the white body bag before him, and whose recently newborn child was in a body bag above his wife’s, and whose son – appearing to be 10 or so years-old – was crying about the deaths as a bystander told him, “They are in heaven,” and I thought: how long will he listen? When will his grief become a bitterness that turns him into a warrior willing to die rather than try to live in this kind of “peace”? Who will pay the price when he, a young adult warrior, exacts his revenge for the destruction of his family? 

I will say I am consistent: these are the same concerns I had the week of September 11, 2001, when our nation was wanting to exact revenge on whomever caused the destruction of the twin towers in New York. I took a plane that week – on a large, robust plane like a 737 that was carrying only 6 passengers that Saturday after 9/11 because of fear – and went as a visitor to Fort Worth to preach that Sunday. The lection was from Luke 15 and I dared to preach that Sunday that we naturally want to get even, but the Father we claim loves both his children and wishes them to reconcile. 

         I understood our President Biden announcing his loyalty to Israel as an ally. I appreciated the President going to Israel and I appreciated him saying that we (the U.S.) made some mistakes after 9/11 that carried us into a war for years that we did not win. But I am convinced that the bitterness in Prime Minister Netanyahu will not allow him to think with his “balanced” head. 

         Do not fail to understand, America. We are militarily complicit in what appears to be a savage genocide of the Palestinians. What else could it be when, in the name of revenge, someone exacts a 10 to 1 death price against a people? 

         Who or what will pay the price? Will it include my children? my grandchildren? Might some be my great grandchildren? Think not that America will forever get away with effecting war in other countries without such devastations coming upon our own shore? Will that be a price we pay?  War in the future that is fought, at least in part, on our territory? 

         Who or what will pay the price? Will the Gospel we proclaim as a Gospel of peace and hope and love and joy pay the price for our participation? Will our inconsistency with what we preach prove our Gospel too weak in its influence on us to the point that others we preach to have no desire to accept or desire it? In moments of untampered anger some years ago, a woman said to me, “Son, I don’t know why you carrying that Bible under your arm; it ain’t doin’ you no good!” 

         So, in the moments of hearing the “Merry Christmas” that fell like a thud this morning, I knew that writing today would challenge me more than I wanted to be challenged, because I suddenly knew that I can be silent no longer. We, America, are complicit in this war that the Prime Minister of Israel says must go on until Hamas is completely destroyed. Really, Mr. Prime Minister? Did Hitler’s ovens and less than humane treatments of more than 6 million Jews wipe your people out? Do you think, as you murder people’s children and siblings before them, that you will wipe those people out, or wipe the negative influencers out? No, Mr. Netanyahu, it’s not gonna happen! No, President Biden, It’s not gonna happen! We must regroup and work for solutions through other means! And, … know God will hold us together responsible for this inhumane human slaughter! 

         I write as the Senior Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church because that is my office. This is not, however, an official statement of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Nevertheless, do not misunderstand: this is an official statement of a man who believes he is called as one of God’s spokespersons to speak what he or she believes is truth from God.

 

+ Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick



Postscript: Below are my words in letter form which represent my action (and mine alone)

 

Dear President Biden: 

I write as one who supported your election fully. When I voted for you, I was not simply voting against somebody else. I voted for you in 2020. 

Thank you for going to Israel and standing with Mr. Netanyahu soon after October 7th. However, Mr. President, I cannot stand with you in the slaughter of innocent Palestinian children (and of many others who are innocent). 

The United States should not be complicit in this barbaric genocide! You cannot call a revenge of 10 to 1 anything else but genocide! I for one do not stand with it, and I for one will be silent no longer. This is barbaric murder – and even worse than war! 

I write as an individual citizen.

 

Sincerely,

+ Lawrence L. Reddick III

Resident of Texas and Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church



 

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