Tag Archives: Peace

Restoring Peace

5 Aug
Photo via Flickr user Carolina Ponce

Photo via Flickr user Carolina Ponce

The disciples were fishing, and a man on the shore told them to throw their net to the other side of the boat.”It is the Lord,” one said to Peter. It was the third time Jesus appeared to his friends after the resurrection in John. Although Peter had not initially recognized Jesus, he jumped into the water to swim to shore. While the others stayed in the boat, Peter’s love for Jesus could not be contained.

The time between Jesus’ death and ascension is blessed, heavy with holiness and wonder. In these interactions, Jesus is teaching us a great deal about peace and reconciliation, which seems to be his focus in that middle time. “Peace. Peace be with you. My peace I give you,” he says as a greeting. It is done. In his death and resurrection, peace is possible. Now the disciples have to take that peace and make it real in the world.

In his life, death and resurrection, Jesus is a master healer. His healing brings restoration and transformation. It leaves the broken not only whole, but stronger. It is a ministry of true reconciliation. The scene that follows Peter’s endearing swim to meet Jesus is another example of the heart of Jesus’ ministry.

First, they eat. This is no small gesture. Imagine if we really took the time to sit down and share a meal with people we are working with, living among, and loving before launching into the business at hand. Then, after connecting to his friend, listening and laughing, he asks,”Peter, do you love me?”

“You know that I love you.”

“Peter, do you love me?”

“Lord, you know that I love you.”

A third time, “Peter, do you love me?”

It would have been easy for Jesus to assume Peter understood what the resurrection meant– that he was forgiven, that he was filled with Christ’s peace. Jesus creates an intimate moment between friends so that Peter will claim his freedom. Jesus asks not once, but three times. Peter is reminded of his own brokenness and thrice betrayal in the same moment he is released from it. He is free to take on the peace of Christ and spread it to the world.

This “Do you love me?/Lord, you know that I love you” refrain has been echoing in my head for a few days. It is Jesus intimately and tenderly taking my hand, helping me face my brokenness and claim Christ’s forgiveness and peace so that I too may engage in the ever-important work of reconciliation in our broken world. The peace of restoration– that same peace Jesus showed lepers and adulterers and his good friend Peter– is being given to us to claim and share.

Waging Peace

29 Jul
Photo via Flickr user Bruce Fingerhood

Photo via Flickr user Bruce Fingerhood

Do you hear the cries for peace? The longing is so urgent and real. It is easy to think of peace a simply a lack of violence. God’s vision of peace, however, is more beautiful than that and requires more of us than simply putting our weapons down.

What is God’s vision of peace? There are two biblical images in particular I have been meditating on:

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not raise its sword against nation, and they shall learn war no more.          –Ish 2:4

and

Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear.       –Micah 4:4

I love the visuals that come with these images of peace. One person taking a weapon and making it into a tool that will help bring forth food, abundance and life. Or another person, enjoying the shade of a tree that bears fruit. This biblical idea of peace, coming from the word shalom, is not just lack of violence. This is a peace that gets at the holistic well being of all persons. It is a peace that claims that access to food, safety and leisure time bring human dignity and should be available to all.

These images of shalom remind me of a statue I saw in El Salvador, a beautiful and hopeful piece of art made from melted down bullets used in their civil war. Tools for violence turned into art. It makes me think of organizations working with farmers to create more secure food options for families and communities all around the world.

I yearn for shalom. I pray for a time when we can put down our weapons because we are no longer afraid. I beg for an age when we can all sit in the shade of prosperity without fear. Shalom will only come when all people have enough, when the most vulnerable in our communities are seen and tended to as God’s beloved children. Peace is tied to being committed to the well being of all. Shalom requires us to believe that we can glimpse heaven here and now and engage in God’s work of reconciliation in this life.

Blessed are the peacemakers, those who do not just think about it, but build their lives around waging peace. Peacemaking is a vocation Jesus calls us to. This shalom peace is not just a lack of violence, but a commitment to the holistic well being of all God’s beloved creatures. And God’s creatures are crying out for peace.

6th Week of Easter

5 May
Photo via Flickr user Olga Lednichenko

Photo via Flickr user Olga Lednichenko

“Peace is my gift to you.” – John 14.27

Jesus promises his disciples peace. He sends them on Easter evening to be instruments of his peace and forgiveness as God has sent him. Be an instrument of peace in your family and office.

Look over the day each evening to see how what the Spirit of Christ risen is teaching you.

Prayer of the week: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Peace Begins with Me

14 Aug

Quick: When you read the word “peace,” what do you think of?

If you could take more time, how would you define peace?

If you could take even more time, what plan would you draw up to promote peace around the world?

A few days ago, a friend of mine gave me a card small enough that it could fit in my wallet. The front read, “Peace begins with me,” written in simple letters with multiple blue circles drawn around the “me.” The back proclaimed me a hero with the following sentiment:

It might have been your smile.

It might have been a real, connected conversation.

It might have been as simple as you really seeing me or you really being you!

That is a hero in my book, in a world that can feel … disconnected.

herocard-1024x774The back also asked me to initial the card and to pass it along to the next hero that I meet. The cards are distributed by Peace Begins with Me, which according to their website is a “humanitarian, non-profit organization dedicated to education, inspiration, and collaboration in the area of inner peace, knowing that, because we are all connected, inner peace is the way to global peace.”

At least for me, this is a slightly different way to think about peace. When I hear the word “peace,” I tend to think of global conflicts, genocide, and cease fires. When I try to define peace, it is only in the negative, that is, as a lack of violence, rather than a positive state of being that involves how I view and treat myself, others, and our world. If I had to make a plan for peace, I would say I can’t do very much, since it needs to involve treaties, free elections, and truth and reconciliation commissions.

But this organization makes the claim that peace begins much closer to home—with ourselves. It makes the claim that each and every one of us has something to do with creating peace in the world. It wants us to practice living with integrity and intention, so that we can live as ourselves and so that we can let others live as their selves.

What does peace in relationship with the self involve? I believe it is grounded in a compassion for the self. Instead of beating ourselves up over real and perceived faults, we are called to accept and respect who we are as children of God. I believe it is grounded in knowing ourselves well, so that we can speak and live what is in our heart. Practicing the art of knowing ourselves truly and honoring that self helps us flex the muscles we need to treat the Others in our lives, those who are different from us, with the honor and respect they also deserve as children of God.

The idea of working toward a peaceful self resonates in an interesting way with this week’s Gospel reading from Luke. Jesus, our “Prince of Peace,” says that his coming will not bring peace but rather division, division in households, division between fathers and sons and between mothers and daughters. While the gospel does not mention this, Jesus’ presence in our lives can also bring division to our very selves, and this is not necessarily a wholly bad thing. As the apostle Paul describes in Romans 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” As followers of Christ, we have the desire to live as Christ lived; we want to follow in his footsteps. Yet in our humanity, we find ourselves falling short and doing that which we do not want to do.

For example, as the new school year approaches and I prepare to send my oldest son to kindergarten, I have thought about how my buying habits reflect or do not reflect my Christian identity. I would like to purchase clothes that I know are made in safe working conditions by workers being paid a living wage. But then I find a good deal on uniform clothes and I put out of my mind thoughts about how it is possible that this store can sell me pants for seven dollars and shirts for only five. I am an inner house divided, wanting to be thrifty but feeling how this conflicts with my commitments to social justice. And in this space of discomfort, I feel God calling me forward toward new ways of being (and shopping) in the world that can bring more peace.

This gap between what we want to do and what we do is what continues to pull us forward on our spiritual journeys, as we strive to conform ourselves more closely with Christ. As we work for greater symmetry between our beliefs and our actions, between what we know and what we do, we work for peace in ourselves.

What does the phrase “Peace begins with me” mean to you?

In what areas of your life do you feel like a house divided, wanting to do one thing but doing another? What can you do to bring more inner peace to your life?

Violence and Human Dignity

2 Nov

How do you define violence? What violence are you exposed to in your community?

Guest Post from Claire Bishoff in reflection of Matthew 22:34-40
 

Until very recently, I did not think much about violence. I was confident that my only exposure to it came through the occasional act of violence I saw in a movie or television show.

Then in a girls’ discussion group I was leading, the topic of sexual harassment came up. The young women told stories about having crude things yelled at them by strangers when they were out for a jog; answering the phone, only to hear heavy breathing on the other end; avoiding the hallway at school where a few popular boys would sit and “grade” the girls’ looks as they walked by; and being touched inappropriately at school, church, and parties by boys they thought were their friends. As the stories gushed forth, the young women were amazed that they were not the only one who had faced harassment. Many had never talked about these incidents, afraid that people would not believe them or that they would be blamed for what had happened to them.

Then one young woman said something I will never forget: “I would rather have someone hit me than harass me like this. Bruises heal, but it is hard to feel good about yourself when someone treats you like an object, not a person. Plus, if there was a bruise, then people would believe I was being bothered and might even help me do something about it.”

These young women’s stories helped me realize that physical violence is not the only kind of violence. Anything that demeans another person, that denies their human dignity as made in the image of God, is violent. If this is the definition of violence, then all of us encounter a lot more violence that we might think. If this is the definition of violence, then it is harder to separate “violent” people from the rest of us. Let those among us who have never taken away the humanity of another person through rude comments, tasteless jokes, or simply staying silent while others behave this way, throw the first stone.

This is not to excuse violence because everyone acts this way at times. Rather, it is to sound a call for all of us to be more aware of our involvement in cycles of violence. Violence does not just happen in “bad neighborhoods” or countries half-way around the world. Violence happens everywhere, thus it is the job of everyone to think creatively about and to act courageously for promoting peace between people of different ages, races, nations, religions, sexualities, and political persuasions.

This is at the heart of our lives as Christians. In this week’s Gospel (Matthew 22:34-40), Jesus teaches us that the most basic laws are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself, two forms of love that are integrally connected. The more we love God, the more we are able to see the humanity in others, even those who are radically different from, even those we do not like. The more we are able to love our neighbors, the more we know and love God, as we encounter God through them. This journey of love is truly a journey of a lifetime.

What is one thing you can do this week that demonstrates your:

love for God?
love for someone radically different from you?
love for yourself?


What one thing can you do this week to make sure that the human dignity of others is not compromised?

%d bloggers like this: