Last spring, the Eastern District and Franconia Conference Peace and Justice Committee sent invitations to our congregations for any member, young or old, to write reflections on “Walking in the Way of Peace.” We weren’t sure what response we would receive, but we offered this as one way for people to consider and express how their experience of following Jesus in everyday life led them to reconciling conversations, or choices supporting justice for vulnerable people, or perhaps what tensions they felt in trying to live Christ’s peace. As it turned out, the best submissions did speak of struggle and uneasiness – especially the conflicted feeling of desiring the well-being and fullness of life God intends for us and all creation, and cringing in our awareness of our own part in continuing the gap between God’s dream and our present reality. Thanks be to God that we are not left alone in acknowledging the gap, but live with the Spirit within us, moving among us to create peace that eclipses human understanding! May these two honest reflections feed our common hope in the Prince of Peace, who comes to us in weakness and poverty–that the glory of the Lord would be revealed, and all people would see it together.
by Brenda Shelly, Blooming Glen
I have not opened morning eyes to a place torn by bombs or spent a night without sleep due to violence.
But I long for peace in the devastated dark corners of this trembling globe.
I have not tasted the painful bitterness of losing a loved one to war.
But my heart aches for mothers and wives bearing such a profound and agonizing sting.
The mouths of my children have never asked for bread because they could not quiet great hunger from within.
But my soul aches when I remember the millions less fortunate. The gentle, the innocent, the starving. Parents with no way to comfort a dying child.
Never have I been unduly pressed by a governmental or cultural authority, leaving me powerless and desperate.
How I fear for those oppressed beyond any visible hope or release.
It has not been difficult for me to turn the other cheek in my privileged middleclass neighborhood with only the sound of wind chimes and the occasional spoiled dog next door to break the silence.
I’ve had no trouble integrating my nonviolent beliefs in the peaceful way of Jesus with the realities of my tiny, sheltered, personal world. I am sometimes ashamed by my pedestrian untested faith. How can my opinions even matter when resting alongside such global suffering?
I have no answers. Yet my heart burns for peace. Every fiber of my being aches for justice, longs for reconciliation, and desperately hopes that somewhere deep inside each vengeful or frightened heart, we might someday find our common humanity. A humanity in which will can all to look into the eyes of the one we fear (the one we think we hate) and see our own eyes looking back.