And We Bring Help and Peace
By: Rev. Suzie Chamness
Love is the greatest technique for bringing peace. We bring peace when we begin loving others as Christ loved us. We learn to live peaceably with our neighbors not just next door but all those around the world. We are all inter-related. We are all People of God. We are not Americans or U.S. Americans or Canadians. We are all a part of humanity. We can only hope to realize we are all in this together and begin to live as though we cannot live without one another.
There are new ways for seeking resolutions for peace. In history Christians have warred if it is in accord with "just war" criteria. Many Christians now say "just war" theory is not enough. It's not enough to wait until the government is ready to start a war and then decide whether it is just or not.
We are a Christ filled people. The first just peacemaking or non-violent action will be realized when all people are welcomed at the table of life, the table to humanity as each brings with them their experience and because none can know everything but a collection of people can share at the table of truth and learn from one another and then each can walk from that table knowing so much more.
Nonviolent action is only an ideal when we sit and look instead of call our Sister and Brothers to gather at the table. Other peaceful practices emphasize trust and working for peace before crisis exists. We grow to realize our responsibility for conflict and pursuing justice and works to reduce offensive gestures.
We can join one another in peacemaking groups and voluntary associations. It is recognition by numbers and it is shared information to learn peaceful needs of others. When you join in a group, you have access to information; some of which you claim for your own and some which you do not.
Listen to one another. Learn to come as one to love our friends and our enemy. Thus is a great challenge. When we can not learn to share Godís love with our enemy, we will not be able to sit at the table of peace. We cannot dialogue to build a bridge of hope without sitting with our enemy in a shared understanding of why we gather together.
When we can sit with those who are different and who differ in ideas, we cam begin to build a world that has a new objective to it comprised of the result of the dialogue of all peoples.
We can develop a spirituality that leads to healthy peacemaking practicing a healthy spiritual discipline.
When we begin engaging in these peaceful direct actions, we become peacemakers. When we listen to others, pray for those we do not know, sit at the table with open hearts and open minds, we become the peacemakers.
We are called through Christ to transformation. It is a transformation of our self with an agenda of conscious raising through our checks and balances of our own actions toward others. As people who follow the teaching of Christ, we become people who do influence public policy. Some times it is an overt gesture and sometimes it is thrust upon us. If we try to change the world using the ways of the world, we will fail. Our impact on public policy should be an outgrowth of our concern for people.
We cannot follow Jesus without addressing those less fortunate. We are called as the teaching of Christ tell us to care for the poor. Our commission from Christ is to respond as individuals and as the body of Christ to poverty. We can help alleviate poverty by working in the neighborhoods and by forming relationships with groups to make the most of the help for those who need our help.
Responding to the needs of others is something that comes from the heart of the Church, the body of Christ, the congregation. It is the responsibility of every Christian. No one is exempt. We are all called to answer the call of the needs of our neighbors.
We address issues of poverty and justice as we preach and teach in churches. We enlist and ask all members of the congregation to form a relationship with someone struggling through financial challenges. If we encourage by beginning with help through charity we will be able to move closer to the justice issues of the dialogue at the table of fairness. Start with one-time events and move to the longer term events and we will move to justice.
We can make a commitment to a troubled neighborhood. One way our church restores dignity and promotes self-sufficiency is by providing clothes and food available for a small fee instead of giving it away. This teaches responsibility and dignity in being able to provide for oneself.
Ministering from a distance will not serve the community. Effectiveness comes when you share by living in their midst just as the disciples of Christ and Christ did. You abide where you do the most good by living among the people.
Change is slow because there is so very much to be don and it is so complex and far reaching. Often what slows us from responding is feeling powerless to make a change. But the success stories from many community undertakings give a glimmer of hope to the change one person or church can make.
We do not bring the kingdom of God, but we can point to it with our love, our action and our lives. We can do our best to make the way open and direct so God can come in. It's not beyond our capability to make a difference. We're the ones who are supposed to be carrying our candles and rushing to the darkness.
Rev. Suzie Chamness serves as the Interim Pastor of Spirit of Life MCC in New Port Richey, Florida. Contact her by email at revsuzie-at-spiritoflifemcc.org
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