War

Michael Jackson said “But I’m a lover not a fighter.” I’m not afraid to fight the good fight. Truth is, my hackles raise like those on any good mama bear worth her salt. I’m prone to stand up and speak up when I need to, but I’m working hard to tame my temper and to open my heart and become generous, thoughtful, and diplomatic. I am weary of polarization and rancor. I seek peace.

I remember when the Lord of the Rings movies–which I love–came out. The battle scenes are larger than life. I couldn’t help but feel, however, that they were also aptly symbolic of the terrible greatness of the mostly unseen (are our heads in the sand?) battle of good against evil.

Over time, I’ve struggled with the prevalence of war metaphors and imagery in our hymns and scripture. Not because I’m afraid to fight, but because I crave peace. To the point that tears flowed yesterday at church during the first lines of the opening hymn when I realized it was “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

Onward, Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.
Christ, the royal Master,
Leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
See his banners go!

Yesterday I’d awoken with a heavy heart. I later reached out to a good friend who collaborates with her husband to create wonderful art. Angels appear frequently in their work as they fight the good fight. But they do not shrink to name the adversary. “Not TODAY, Satan!” is their cry.

I thanked her for the many ways she encourages and inspires. She sent the following:

war

I was reminded if one must go to war, one is greatly blessed by marching with the valiant.

Today she posted this on her Instagram, in memory of times she has been deeply discouraged and plagued by the devil’s doubts and I would tell her, “You just need to punch him in the face.”

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Mostly I’m grateful that our war hymn yesterday, one of many to be sure, somehow ended on a happy note:

2. At the sign of triumph
Satan’s host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers,
On to victory.
Hell’s foundations quiver
At the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices,
Loud your anthems raise.

3. Like a mighty army
Moves the Church of God;
Brothers (Sisters), we are treading
Where the Saints have trod.
We are not divided;
All one body we:
One in hope and doctrine,
One in charity.

4. Onward, then, ye people;
Join our happy throng.
Blend with ours your voices
In the triumph song:
Glory, laud, and honor
Unto Christ, the King.
This through countless ages
(Wo)men and angels sing.

[Day 108 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]