June 2020 —
Greetings to you in the name of the Prince of Peace. I offer this greeting in a time when it seems there is no peace to be found. The news feed is oscillating between Coronavirus updates and the civil unrest after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We are still reeling from the economic impact of the shut-down. There is a lot of fear about what the future holds for us. Then there is the specter of the virus itself which is affecting everything we do and changing the very way we define community. Now there are demonstrations all over the nation, some peaceful and some wrought with violence and destruction. Fear and anger abound in our world right now. Many are feeling anxious and uncertain of the future of our nation.
There is no shortage of opinions, passionate speeches and petitions for change on both subjects and the divisions between us are growing deeper and wider. Everything is an argument! It can be tempting to pretend it is someone else’s problem and choose to remain silent until it all passes. After all, we’ve been here before…too many times. But, silence is not the answer either. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement in his day, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to be advocates for peace with justice. The bible in Isaiah 32 alludes to the fact that peace is the natural result of justice:
The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
his righteousness live in the fertile field.
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
In a time of upheaval and unrest, we have a choice to make. We can be a part of the problem or we can seek to be a part of the solution. That may sound trite and cliché, but it is nonetheless true. We can and should be passionate in our beliefs and for our causes, but we can choose to temper our actions and words with grace for those who disagree. We can use inflammatory words in a situation or choose to speak peace. We can seek to win by diminishing the other or choose to do the hard work and find a path to peace that brings both sides together. We can remain silent in the face of injustice or we can work diligently and tirelessly to see that all people are treated as we would wish to be treated. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God”. (Matthew 5: 19) That peace comes with grace and justice for all people and begins when we see every person as a child of God created in God’s image.
The challenge is this…each of us has a sphere of influence and a social group with which we associate and identify. What conversations can we have or work can we do within that group to help build bridges across the boundaries that divide us from others? The work that God is calling us to, both within the church and in our personal lives, is a work of peace with justice. We must be honest with ourselves about how we may contribute to the problem. We must be willing to allow God to transform our lives and “let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” who humbled himself before God and sought not his own will, but that the separation between God and humans be erased and all people be at peace with God and each other. Let the world see Christ in us! Let the world see the difference God’s love can make! Let peace begin with you and me!
Peace to you,