[In these early days of the new year, many of us are focused on praying for peace. This morning I received an update from an NGO that I’m involved with (Mennonite Central Committee) that is actively involved in peace work in Iran. They offered this prayer, adapted slightly from Richard Rohr:]
O Great God of Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. Today we pray especially, and deeply, for peace in the Middle East. May leaders be drawn to the table of negotiations and away from the temptation to more missiles. You are hearing us better than we are speaking; we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God. Amen.
So instead of loving what you think is peace, love other[s] and love God above all. And instead of hating the people that you think are warmakers, hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, , then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself not in another.
- Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
[I usually avoid re-posting something that I read on Inward/Outward – excellent as it is, too many people receive both emails – but with last week focusing on Martin Luther King, Jr, I couldn’t find anything better and more apt than this quote]:
The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. If the church does not participate actively in the struggle for peace and for economic and racial justice, it will forfeit the loyalty of millions and cause [people] everywhere to say that it has atrophied its will. But if the church will free itself from the shackles of a deadening status quo, and, recovering its great historic mission, will speak and act fearlessly and insistently in terms of justice and peace, it will enkindle the imagination of [humanity] and fire the souls of men [and women], imbuing them with a glowing and ardent love for truth, justice, and peace. [People] far and near will know the church as a great fellowship of love that provides light and bread for lonely travelers at midnight.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Source: A Knock at Midnight (11 June 1967)
[SSU alumnus, Matt Balcarras, recently completed a book on peacemaking with a special emphasis on revealing our complicity in hidden violence. In it he writes:]
There is violence hidden in all our stories. This is one of the uncomfortable truths that is necessary to acknowledge in the pursuit of peace. We live our lives in a context that has often been shaped by hidden violence….
The unseen violence in our story is this: we directly benefit from the actions others have taken in exploiting the lands and resources of First Nations people.
The unseen violence in our story is this: we directly benefit from the actions others have taken using military force against other nations and people, including civilians.
The unseen violence in our story is this: we directly benefit from the modern slavery created by the exploitation of people in the developing world who produce our cheap consumer products.
The unseen violence in our story is this: we directly benefit from the wanton destruction of the world created by God to be our home.
- Matt Balcarras, from Peacemaking: A Community Workbook available here.
[for Remembrance Day, this excerpt from a Christmas poem by Maya Angelou seems a fitting way to remember with hope and be reminded to “speak the word aloud”]
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds….
We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.
– Maya Angelou, from Amazing Peace.
You can read the whole poem here.