Peacemaking

Note: The text of a theological reflection shared with my parish community of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Spartanburg, South Carolina, during tonight’s livestreamed service of Compline from the Book of Common Prayer.

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This past Tuesday night, during Compline, I offered a reflection, beginning, “We live in a highly fractious, deeply polarized time.”

It seems to me that many conversations end before they begin; either because at the first inkling of difference, people, anxiously or angrily, terminate the encounter or because people, knowing they differ about given subjects, refuse “to go there.”

Doubtless, it’s always been this way. Humans – across the relational board of families and friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and strangers – always have disagreed. Disagreement is a reflection of our inherent individuality. Nevertheless, it seems to me that disagreement arises more frequently and more intensely in this fractious, polarized time.

I’m an opinionated person who loves to talk. Name a subject and I’ll have a point of view, which I can discuss or argue with passion.

I also have learned to listen, especially to those who are “other” than I; those who don’t think and feel as I do. For they, as I also said on Tuesday night, “hold an element of truth that I do not…possess (thus)…I need to listen…that I might learn…something new about me and…our common humanity.”

This morning, thinking about all this afresh, Jesus’ words came to mind: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5.9).

Peacemaking! That’s something I believe we need in this day and time.

Peacemaking is not passive acquiescence to every point of view. To make peace is not to avoid, but rather to acknowledge conflict.

Why? To seek to bridge divisions between and among people.

How? Primarily, by reminding all people of our common dignity as created in God’s image or, non-theologically, yet indisputably biologically, our common humanity.

To do this is to remind all people of our destiny: We either live together in peace or die together in turmoil.

As I reflect on my peacemaking efforts, I’ve discovered a mystery – a riddle I can’t resolve by reason, yet something repeatedly proven as real, as true.

Jesus speaks to this mystery when instructing his disciples for their missionary journey: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you” (Luke 10.5-6).

Peace (oneness, wholeness) with God is something that we can give to others only when we have received it from God. The mystery is that peace with God also is something we can keep precisely because we give it away. For in offering peace to others, peace grows; encompassing both the giver and the receiver. And, when we offer God’s peace to someone who does not receive it, God’s peace is not, cannot be destroyed, but rather returns to us give to another.

When we, as peacemakers, receive oneness, wholeness from God, and then, faithfully, freely replicate God’s action by giving that peace away, we are living into our ontology, our beingness as God’s children.

© 6/6/2020 PRA

2 thoughts on “Peacemaking

  1. Paul,

    I took so much from this post. I love leading Compline and I hope I bring people some peace as they end their day. Peacemaking is so important right now… as important as anything in my lifetime this far.

    People call me a peacemaker… I’m typically the person folks call when they have an issue with others,
    But I feel so inadequate in bringing about peace in our world today. This post helps!!

    Here is what I’ll focus on this week!!

    “The mystery is that peace with God also is something we can keep precisely because we give it away. For in offering peace to others, peace grows; encompassing both the giver and the receiver.”

    Thanks for giving me some direction today.

    Much love

    Like

  2. Loretta, always I am happy when something I say or write has resonance and grants meaning or a sense of direction.

    A couple of additional thoughts…

    In seeking to be a peacemaker – that is, as I suggest, reminding folk of our common God-given dignity and, if non-theological language and frameworks work best, depending on the people with whom I encounter, reminding us all of our common biology and all so to point to our essential destiny (either dwelling in peace or dying in turmoil – differs from moment to moment, person to person. It’s a spiritual discernment that is required, called for in each attempt to making peace to know how to approach and to frame this working of being a reminder…

    I have come to believe that whenever we humans seek to do the work of God or, perhaps, better said, God’s work in the world, there always is mystery (that which our human reason cannot grasp, but that which, nevertheless, is real, for God and God’s Being and God’s Doing always are completely beyond our fullest understanding). Thus, I have learned to ask myself: What is the mystery of God that I need recognize, and then trust (have faith in) so to proceed? A necessarily tricky question; one to which the answer (when there is an answer!) is not obvious. Ever.

    Love

    Like

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