No More Violence, No More Guns, No More Wars
Rev. Masaharu Asayama

(Sermon delivered for the Opening Worship of Cumberland Presbyterian Church
General Assembly on June 21, 1999, in Memphis) 


In April (in 1998), the worship director of the General Assembly e-mailed me to ask about the passage of Scripture that would be used for this opening service. I wrote him back the passage would be Luke 19:28-44 which was just read in the beginning. To tell the truth, I chose this passage without much thought into it. As Moderator of the General Assembly traveling various places, I felt like the colt that Jesus is riding on and is led by the Master and goes where He wants it to go.

At the latter part of my service as Moderator, I had a strange dream. In the dream, three passages of the Bible were read. I could not tell if I was reading it or someone was reading it to me. I was asked to preach in Japanese and I walked up to the podium to preach. But somehow my Japanese does not come out of my mouth. I cannot utter even one Japanese word. You know Japanese is my first language, my mother tongue. I would understand it if I was not able to speak English as I always struggle with English, a foreign language to me. But to not be able to utter a single word of Japanese my mother tongue was disturbing. After that I woke up and sat on the bed for some moment in confusion and bewilderment.

I have often thought about this dream since then. It made me think about Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, who became mute because of his little faith. He was able to speak again after he wrote down the name of John which the angel had told him to name his son.

We need to speak the words God gives us. That is our responsibility as Christians, as preachers, and as a church. In order to be able to utter Godfs words, our mouth sometime is closed. We become mute. These are my thoughts and interpretation of this dream.

As I chose todayfs passage and in thinking about Jesus riding on the donkey and thinking that I am the donkey, I realized that this is a very heavy thought.

The colt heard Jesus say, gI tell you this, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.h The colt must have felt the sadness in Jesusf heart and must have felt the tears as Jesus cried over Jerusalem. The more I thought about it, I began to regret choosing this passage without much thought.

gThe stone would shout out.h These are passionate words and are the kind of words that are rarely heard these days. These words were said to the Pharisees when they asked Jesus to stop his disciples praise God with loud a voice. Jesus is expressing his deep love and care for the smaller people. It is like in Matthew 9 when Jesus saw the people and had compassion on them because they were helpless like sheep without a shepherd.

While I moved around in the States, I was impressed with the richness and variety of the hymns and singing. I found out that there are many wonderful traditional hymns and many wonderful contemporary songs. I was deeply impacted by the new song by Brian Wren titled gHere I Amh.

It goes like this:EEEEEE

Jesus says, gHere am I.h And he is asking each one of us, gWhere are you?h

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is the church on the frontier. I ask what gfrontierh is today. I believe the frontier is the place from where Jesus says, gI am here.h I believe the frontier is the place from where Jesus asks us, gWhere are you?h

We see the frontier in Columbia. We see the frontier in Liberia, Africa. We see the frontier in Hong Kong and China. We see the frontier in Japan. Some say that there is no longer a frontier in the United States. But I would say that is wrong. There is surely a frontier even in the United States.

Jesus said, gIf these were silent, even the stone would cry out.h Jesus, with those people who are weak spiritually, physically, or materially, with those who are crying for help, is asking us, gWhere are you?h

As we, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, look toward to the 21st century, how should we answer Jesusf question of gWhere are you?h I believe that we should answer, gDear Lord, we want to be with you, so help us.h

The colt could feel the sadness of Jesus as he cried for the city. I had the opportunity to visit Oklahoma City and the place where the Federal Building was destroyed by terrorist bomb. There, 160 people were killed including many children. There was a statue of Jesus built by the Catholic Church in a corner of the land. Jesus is standing with his back turned toward the destroyed building. His hands are covering his tear stained face. It reminded me of Jesus weeping for the city of Jerusalem.

Jesus is weeping for Kosovo. Jesus is weeping for todayfs Jerusalem. Jesus is weeping for Memphis, Tokyo, Beijing, Armenia, New York, and the world.

gNo more violence! No more guns! No more war!h

Christians are those who work for peace. gBlessed are the peace-makers, for they will be called children of God.h The Cumberland Presbyterian should be a people who work for peace in the 21st century. We are here as the representatives of our churches. We have been chosen to bear the great responsibility at the turn of the age. Is it not that when we are carried by the wind of Holy Spirit and when we are under the leading of Jesus as a donkey, that we can be used by God in this wonderful way?

If someone asks us gwhy we are hereh, we can answer, gThe Lord needs me.h The Lord needs us. Let the Lord guide our Church. Let the wind of the Holy Spirit carry our church according to Godfs will.h



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