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Table of Contents
Focus Text: John 14:8-17, 25-27
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees [the Spirit] nor knows [the Spirit]. You know [the Spirit], because [the Spirit] abides with you, and [the Spirit] will be in you.”
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
John 14:8-17, 25-27
The LORD looks down from heaven; [the LORD] sees all humankind. From where [the LORD] sits enthroned [the LORD] watches all the inhabitants of the earth— [the One] who fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds. A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save… Our soul waits for the LORD; [the LORD] is our help and shield. Our heart is glad in [the LORD], because we trust in [the LORD’s] holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33:13-17, 20-22
In my distress I cry to the LORD, that [the LORD] may answer me: “Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue… Woe is me, that I am an alien in Meshech, that I must live among the tents of Kedar. Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.”
Psalm 120:1-2, 5-7
Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,[o] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Other Lectionary Texts
- Genesis 11:1-9
- Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
- Acts 2:1-21
- Romans 8:14-17
Scriptural Commentary on John 14:8-17, 25-27
Chapter 14 opens what many commentators have called Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, a series of speeches and admonitions given to the disciples in preparation for Jesus’ coming trial, death, and resurrection. The genre of the farewell speech is well attested-to in the Bible, specifically in Genesis 49 (Jacob blessing his sons), Joshua’s farewell speech in Joshua 22-24, and the entire book of Deuteronomy (Gail R. O’Day, New Interpreter’s Bible, 737). Like the farewell speech more generally, Jesus here offers parting promises and blessings to the disciples as well as final instructions. Yet he also asks for a reckoning from the disciples. He implores them to accept his true identity, asking incredulously “‘Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?’” (v. 10). As he is about to depart, Jesus reaffirms his true identity as the one in whom the Father is fully revealed. The consequence of believing that Jesus is Lord is that we “will keep [his] commandments” (v. 15); our love for Jesus will be made manifest in our love for all.
As if anticipating the disciples’ fears and anxieties after his departure, Jesus promises that the Father will send them in his absence a Paraclete. The Greek root of this word, parakaleo, means many different things: to comfort, to exhort, to advocate, to counsel. Some translations give us “Counsellor” or “Advocate,” but really the Paraclete does much more than that. Many readers today understand the Paraclete to be the Holy Spirit, God’s presence with us after Jesus’ ascension (vv. 16, 25-26). Immediately after Jesus promises to send the Spirit, he informs the disciples that he is leaving them with “peace.” In Hebrew the word for “peace,” shalom, means more than serenity; it means abundant flourishing and well-being (Gerard S. Sloyan, Interpretation, 184). The gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of shalom. When we falter or forget Jesus’ teachings, the Spirit is there to remind us and teach us anew (v.26).
The peace of which Jesus speaks here sounds mostly individual, a stilling of troubled hearts or a soothing of fears (v. 27). Yet Jesus in this Gospel repeatedly tells us that accepting Jesus as God means loving one’s neighbor. The kind of peace that comes from the Spirit, then, is not just an individual emotion but a social reality. Neighbor-love and peace can easily become clichés that “have no sharp edges, no bite; they challenge the reader to nothing” (Interpretation, 178). Yet, when we reexamine one in light of the other, we may find that we are challenged to commit to nonviolence. Neighbor-love is love out in public (much as Jesus is God’s love out in public), and when it intersects with “peace,” shalom, we may hold that publicly loving our neighbors means laying down arms.
This is not an easy message to stomach. Even the disciples don’t fully understand all that Jesus says (New Interpreter’s Bible, 743). In verse 8, Philip asks to see the Father; he does not realize that he has been seeing the Father in Jesus this whole time. Yet in the midst of confusion and anxiety, Jesus reminds us that he brings love and peace. We can “‘take courage, because I (Jesus) have conquered the world!’” (16:33), and because Jesus remains with us always through the ever-present Spirit (Interpretation, 176). Gail R. O’Day sums up the message this way:
Jesus offers his followers the good news of the love of God and the abiding presence of God with them, even when the circumstances of their lives would indicate otherwise. In the face of the evidence that says the battle is lost, that death will claim Jesus, and that the hope Jesus offered them is thereby nullified, Jesus speaks words of renewed hope and assurance: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid’ (v. 27).
by Hana Suckerhoff, Duke Divinity School graduate and former Council intern
Pastoral Reflection on John 14:8-17, 25-27
In 2016, it’s as difficult as it’s ever been to have confidence in force of arms as a means of creating true peace. We live in the aftermath of the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and the Libyan intervention, and neither dictatorship nor Salafist extremism is waning. The latter, if anything, is politically stronger across West Asia and Africa than 15 years ago during the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. In Africa, predatory guerrilla armies and civil conflicts continue to ebb and flow across national borders, and at the edge of Europe, Russia’s expansionist proxy war in the Ukraine also raises anxiety in the Baltic. In none of those areas has military might offered hope for peaceful resolution and lasting justice.
What we see is that military force is only one form of power, and that power in other forms offsets and limits the prospects for military force. This may be the economic power of drugs or oil, as Mexico and NATO face respectively in their confrontations with drug cartels and Russia. It may be the social power of ideological convictions or tribal loyalties or class privileges. In fact, military force often serves such other forms of power that exercise dominance.
When Jesus promised his disciples the gift of peace, not as the world gives peace, but “my peace,” he was not offering an inner serenity that is indifferent to the violence and suffering of the world, withdrawn from its conflicts. Jesus issued a new gift of peace because he promised a new form of power to his followers – the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of Pentecost. The peace that Jesus says, “I give,” in verse 27 is directly connected to the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, whom the Father “will give” the disciples upon the intercession of Jesus in verse 16. Jesus says the world cannot receive this gift with its truth, but that this Spirit will inhabit his followers, those who love him and “keep my commandments.”
The power of the Holy Spirit is not merely an esoteric or ecstatic emotional experience. The power of the Holy Spirit is transformative in reconstituting and reframing our identities as children of God. The power of the Holy Spirit turns inside out the meaning and value of our social status, our ethnicity and language, our privileges and our sufferings, even our homes and wealth and life itself (see the first seven chapters of Acts about the impact of the power of the Spirit). All these are things that people seek to secure and honor with military might and the powers of the world that do not know the Spirit.
The power of the Spirit transforms by joining us to the identity and work of Jesus, for Jesus says that the Spirit will “be in you” (v.17) in the same way he says “the Father is in me” (v.10-11), and as Jesus is wholly given to the mission of the Father’s kingdom, so the Spirit joins us fully to that mission as seen in Jesus. We are to act and pray with identities joined to Jesus, doing his works and praying what he prays for, as he says, “in my name.” As he said the Father could be seen in him, the world should see Jesus in us, by the power of the Spirit.
The power of the Spirit does not remove us from conflict and loss, any more than Jesus was removed from conflict and loss. The power of the Spirit does not free us from sacrifice, any more than Jesus was free from sacrifice. If, as Jesus said, the Spirit empowers and leads us to greater works than those of Jesus himself, it is for even greater works of service to the oppressed and suffering, more signs of sacrifice for peace and reconciliation, in an imitation of Jesus that moves beyond repetition to inspired/in-Spirit-ed re-presentation. As the bread and drink at Eucharist, by the power of Spirit, re-presents the living Jesus to us, so we are to re-present Jesus to the world in the same power so the world can experience the divine community of God’s reign. The gift of peace is not a call to retreat from the world, but a summons to advance into the world with the kind of power God brought in Jesus for God’s kingdom.
Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…” (John 18:36). The power and kingdom that is of the Spirit contradicts that of this world’s priorities and judgments. The peace given by the world heaps more upon those who already are privileged and strong, because it is strength and privilege that proves righteousness to the world. And the world’s peace condemns and silences those whose loss and suffering is required by the strong, because to the world, weakness and suffering proves judgment on sin. Might not only makes right, it makes fate.
But the Spirit brings a different peace, declaring the truth about sin and righteousness and judgment that proves the world wrong (John 16:8-11). The power of the Spirit moves by faith, not calculation of profit. The power of the Spirit shows love by humility, not by glitter and spectacle. The power of the Spirit gives life rather than takes it, builds up the wounded and fallen rather than the privileged and strong, feeds the hungry rather than the rich, seeks to serve the lowest and neediest rather than celebrate with the greatest and mightiest. These are the kinds of examples and commandments Jesus gave us, in following which we show our love, and his Spirit abiding in us. The power of the Spirit brings peace by truth and love, not by force nor by might (Zech. 4:6). In Christ, God took upon and within and through God’s own self the weakness and suffering of the world, even to the all-consuming loss and silence of the grave, and by the resurrection damned the peace of the world’s power as a lie.
The peace given by the Spirit to us enters Jesus’ own contestation with the world over power and truth. And in the Spirit’s exercise of faith (“believe me”), love (“keep my commands”) and hope (“do greater works… ask me for anything”), we can live free from the fear that accepts war and relies upon war. The power of the Spirit draws us to freedom from the fear of loss, even from fear of death, to live and share in love a peace not given by the world we have known, but a peace given from a world still on its way. Let not your hearts be troubled, and be not afraid.
by Rev. Spencer Bradford, Pastor, Durham Mennonite Church
Worship Aids about Peace
Child 1: Do you come in peace?
All: What do you have to do with peace?
Child 2: Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?
Child 1: Cries of fear are heard—terror, not peace.
All: We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror.
Child 2: The Lord is Peace.
Child 1: This is what the Lord says: “I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.”
All: We will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make us dwell in safety.
Child 2: I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.
All: We will submit to God and be at peace with God; in this way prosperity will come to us.
Child 1: My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.
All: Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
Child 2: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… And he will be called… Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
All: The punishment that brought us peace was upon him. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to the people on whom God’s favor rests.
Child 1: Christ came and preached peace to you: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
All: LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.
Child 2: As God has sent me, I am sending you. Blessed are the peacemakers.
All: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace.
Child 1: All your daughters and sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace.
Child 2: You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
(adapted from “Peace in the Home,” Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day 2005, wm.gc.adventist.org/AbusePreventionEmphasisDay/2005%20Abuse%20Prevention%20Day/APED2005.htm)
Prayer of Confession
Prayer of Confession
Spirit of God, forgive us. For two thousand years, we Christians have failed to live the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Instead of sharing with our sisters and brothers, instead of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick, we have stored up treasures and sent from our door the vulnerable, sick, hungry and homeless.
Instead of forgiving, we have sought vengeance, retribution, harsh punishment and death. We have asked the state to kill in our name. Instead of fighting against injustice, we have dominated, discriminated and demeaned; we have benefited from the economic oppression of our neighbors. Instead of loving our enemies, we have demonized them. Instead of peace, nonviolence and reconciliation, we Christians have unleashed in your name: violent crusades, slavery, the Holocaust, and nuclear war. We have killed through landmines, depleted uranium, bombing runs, smart weapons and economic sanctions.
We confess that we have neglected our prayer life and community building. We have lost our way and are not the people you called us to be. Accept our prayer and restore us. In your mercy, forgive us. Forgive us. Forgive us.
(edited, by Janet Chisholm, Vice Chair of Episcopal Peace Fellowship, from “Lenten Fast from Violence 2005,” World Council of Ch urches, www2.wcc-coe.org/
Prayer for Peace
O God, Creator of the universe, who extends your concern over every creature and guides the events of history to the goal of salvation, we acknowledge your strong love when you break the resistance of humanity. In a world torn by strife and discord, you make us ready for reconciliation. Renew for us the wonders of your mercy. Send forth your Spirit to work in the intimacy of hearts, that enemies may begin to dialogue, that adversaries may shake hands and peoples may encounter one another in harmony.
May we all commit ourselves to the sincere search for true peace which will extinguish all arguments, for charity which overcomes hatred, for pardon which disarms revenge. In the name of Christ, Amen.
(adapted from Pope John Paul II, “Prayer for Peace,” www.usccb.org/liturgy/prayersforpeace.shtml)
Where All Can Speak Gently and Truthfully
In the not so distant past, matters of war and peace have caused much division and pain in our churches. Please guide us through our discussions about war, the draft, and conscientious objection. Help each of us to be prayerfully open to your calling in our lives. Remind us to be in continuous prayer for one another so that we can support and respect one another even when we do not agree. May our churches provide a rare sanctuary in our society where people seek to genuinely understand and love one
another. Help us to create a place of safety for differences of opinion. Let this be a place where all can speak gently and truthfully without fear of judgment and hate.
Teach us how to be united by your love even when we are not united in our opinions.
(by Audrey Osborne Mazur, from “Lenten Fast from Violence 2005,” World Council of Churches, www2.wcc -coe.org/dov.nsf/0/88fedfe1d5295b9ec1256fd300352f8c?
Prayer in Time of War
Eternal God, in whose will is our enduring peace, we find ourselves again in the wilderness of war. With hopes dashed on the rocks of failed diplomacy among nations filled with distrust and fear, we cry out to you for mercy.
With memories of a fragile peace now lost, we ask for courage to face the uncertainty of a world vulnerable to unimaginable death. God, in your mercy, save us.
Loving God, we confess our complicity in the misunderstanding and hostility which have brought us to this tragic hour. Forgive our callousness to the hurts of others and our contempt for the heritage that shapes their lives.
Hear the lament of our hearts for anything and everything worthy of peace which we have neglected on the road to war. God, in your mercy, forgive us.
Righteous God, in whose sacred justice both mercy and truth embrace, forbid that we fail to see in all persons, including those we now call our enemy, the grandeur of your image and likeness.
Across the chasm of our separation, open our eyes to our common humanity pronounced good by your voice at the dawn of creation. God, in your mercy, reconcile your people.
Saving God, sustain us in the things necessary for a just peace in the aftermath of this conflagration. Deliver us and all others from the use of wanton weapons of wrath which promise only to poison the earth and fan the expanding fires of human hatred.
Deliver us from the temptation to imitate what we say we deplore and from cowardice to embody the costly freedom we seek to defend. God, in your mercy, save us from the enemy within our hearts.
Healing God, guardian of those in harm’s way, hold close our sons and daughters who serve our nation in this conflict fraught with contradiction. Return them soon and safely to us and the land of their hopes and dreams.
In obedience to your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray as well for those who are at enmity with us in this struggle and who are sons and daughters beloved in their own land. Return them soon and safely to their families and the land of their hopes and dreams. God, in your mercy, hasten the end of this war.
Eternal God, One in the communion of the Holy Trinity, by the power of your Holy Spirit transform your world into the global family you created us to be.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, whose promise we remember in faith: “Peace I leave with you: my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.”
(from “A Service for Peace In a Time of War,” United Church of Christ, www.ucc.org/worship/ways/peaceliturgy.pdf)
Suggested Hymns about Peace
Blest Be the Tie That Binds
African Methodist Episcopal Hymnal 522
Christian Methodist Episcopal Hymnal 359
Baptist Hymnal 387
Presbyterian Hymnal 438
Moravian Book of Worship 680
Lutheran Worship 295
New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) 393
United Methodist Hymnal 557
Chalice Hymnal (Disciples of Christ) 433
Glory to God (2013 PCUSA hymnal) 306
African American Heritage Hymnal 341
Comfort, Comfort You My People
Presbyterian Hymnal 3
Moravian Book of Worship 264
New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) 101
Lutheran Worship 28
Chalice Hymnal (Disciples of Christ) 122
Gather Hymnal (Catholic) 326
Glory to God (2013 PCUSA hymnal) 87
New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) 576
Let There Be Peace on Earth
Gather Hymnal (Catholic) 731
Chalice Hymnal (Disciples of Christ) 677
United Methodist Hymnal 431
African-American Hymnal 498
For the Healing of the Nations
Chalice Hymnal (Disciples of Christ) 668
Moravian Book of Worship 685
Gather Hymnal (Catholic) 719
United Methodist Hymnal 428
Glory to God (2013 PCUSA hymnal) 346
African American Heritage Hymnal 341
Canto de Esperanza
The Presbyterian Hymnal 432
Glory to God 765
I’ve Got Peace Like a River
The Presbyterian Hymnal 368
Glory to God 623
African-American Heritage Hymnal 492
Moravian Book of Worship 592
New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) 478
It is Well with My Soul
Baptist Hymnal 410
Moravian Book of Worship 754
New Century Hymnal (United Church of Christ) 438
Chalice Hymnal (Disciples of Christ) 561
United Methodist Hymnal 372
Quotes about Peace
It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.
Peace is the work of justice indirectly, in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace; but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity… causes peace.
We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.
General Omar Bradley
We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves.
The non-violent technique does not depend for its success on the goodwill of the oppressor, but rather on the unfailing assistance of God.
There is no squabbling so violent as that between people who accepted an idea yesterday and those who will accept the same idea tomorrow.
Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. Mahatma Gandhi
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being. Mahatma Gandhi
But how will a Christian engage in war – indeed, how will a Christian even engage in military service during peacetime – without the sword, which the Lord has taken away? For although soldiers had approached John to receive instructions and a centurion believed, this does not change the fact that afterward, the Lord, by disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier. Tertullian
[I]f the one who taught us to love our enemies is the eternal Son who became flesh in the carpenter who died and rose and now reigns as Lord of the universe, then the peaceful way of nonviolence is for all who believe and obey him. Do we have the courage to summon the entire church to forsake the way of violence? Ronald J. Sider
Vignette about Peace
The Rutba House – A Model of Love
When the United States invaded Iraq in the spring of 2003, my wife Leah and I were part of a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation that went to Baghdad to be with the people there while the bombs fell. We knew no way to stop the bombs from falling. But we believed that part of what it means to follow Jesus is to stand with those who are suffering as they suffer. So we followed Jesus to Baghdad.
It wasn’t long, however, before Saddam’s police decided they didn’t want Christian peacemakers in Baghdad any more than the U.S. Army did. So we were deported in three taxi cabs by way of the highway that goes to Jordan through the western desert of Iraq. Close to a town called Rutba, one of our cars hit a piece of the shrapnel that littered the road after nearly two weeks of bombing. A tire blew and the car careened into a side ditch. But those of us in the other two cars were driving so fast that we didn’t notice our friends were no longer behind us. By the time we returned, we found the car overturned and splattered with blood and our friends gone.
What we didn’t know then was that a car of Iraqis had seen our friends in the ditch by the roadside and stopped to pick them up. They carried them into the town of Rutba and found a doctor who spoke perfect English. “Three days ago your country bombed our hospital,” the doctor said. “But we will take care of you.” He sewed up two of our friends and saved their lives.
When we found our friends and heard this story, I thanked the doctor and asked what we owed him for his services. “You do not owe me anything,” he said. “Please just tell the world what has happened in Rutba.” We came back to the U.S. telling that story every chance we could get. The more we told it, the more we realized that it was a modern day Good Samaritan story. The people who were supposed to be our enemies had stopped by the roadside, pulled our friends out of a ditch, and saved their lives. In the midst of a terrible war, God had sent some Iraqis to show us what love looks like.
After returning from Iraq, we moved to Durham, North Carolina to start a house of hospitality in the summer of 2003. We said we wanted to try to practice in our daily lives the love we had seen in Iraq. So we called our little experiment the Rutba House.
What we do here day in and day out is hardly as dramatic as rescuing enemies from a roadside while bombs are falling. But the drama of Rutba was not the important thing. What mattered was the gift of love. We’ve tried to find ways to shape our community life together around receiving and sharing God’s love.
So we remind ourselves of how much God loves us by reading Scripture and praying together each morning and evening. We celebrate the supper in which Jesus gave us his body and blood while we were living as his enemies. We share our space, our money, our meals and our stuff with one another. We take Jesus at his word—“my peace I give to you”—and try to live together in unity. We fail at this pretty often, but we are reminded of the forgiving love that got us into this thing to start with. And we try to live in that love.
We invite others into this little experiment. Neighbors join us for dinner and we make space for a couple of people who are homeless to come and live with us. Almost always these are people who struggle with addiction. They help us see how many of our own struggles could be named “addiction.” We struggle together, believing that God still loves us even when it looks like everything is falling apart. We try to live as Sarah and Abraham learned to live—“by faith.”
Not long ago a kid from our neighborhood stole some money from a community member’s wallet. It certainly wasn’t the first time this had happened, but in this case, we were almost sure we knew who had done it. We confronted her and found the money she’d taken in her sock drawer. We talked with her about why stealing is wrong and we talked about repentance. Then the woman she had stolen from said she forgave her. But the kid just stood there crying, overcome by grief and fear.
The next day I watched as the woman from our community returned from a local pool with a carload of kids from the neighborhood. As they filed out of the back seat, there was the kid who had stolen the day before, laughing with all the rest. As the Book of Isaiah says, her tears had turned to laughter. She skipped across the street with an inflatable alligator float under her arm, and I thought about how forgiveness has the power to transform. I remembered those good Iraqis who gave their enemies a ride to Rutba. And I thought of a God who returned to the company of those who betrayed him to say, “I give you my peace.”
By Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. You can read more by Jonathan at here: jonathanwilsonhartgrove.com
Contacts & Resources for Peace
North Carolina Council of Churches’ “Peace” page, providing the Council’s focus, upcoming event notification, and many useful links.
Peace Action, the North Carolina affiliate of the effective national organization. From the 1963 treaty to ban above-ground nuclear testing, to the 1996 signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, from ending the war in Vietnam, to blocking weapons sales to human rights abusing countries, and eliminating funding for new nuclear weapons, Peace Action and its 100,000 members have been, and continue to be, at the forefront of the international movement for peace.
The Coalition for Peace with Justice welcomes all individuals and groups working for a just and sustainable peace in Israel and Palestine. It is an ecumenical and interfaith network based in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, with participants across the United States. Dedicated to human rights, non-violence, education, and advocacy, the Coalition for Peace With Justice offers a variety of activities.
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) offers an organized, nonviolent alternative to war and other forms of lethal inter-group conflict. CPT provides organizational support to persons committed to faith-based nonviolent alternatives in situations where lethal conflict is an immediate reality or is supported by public policy. CPT seeks to enlist the response of the whole church in conscientious objection to war, and in the development of nonviolent institutions, skills and training for intervention in conflict situations. They have maintained violence reduction teams in places such as Gaza/West Bank, Bosnia, Columbia, Iraq, and along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a premier relief organization with a particular historical emphasis on the task of peacemaking. MCC seeks to demonstrate God’s love by working among people suffering from poverty, conflict, oppression and natural disaster, serving as a channel for interchange by building mutually transformative relationships. MCC strives for peace, justice and the dignity of all people by sharing its experiences, resources and faith in Jesus Christ.
National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund is dedicated to the implementation of taxation policies that allow conscientious objectors to pay all of their taxes towards peaceful, non-military government expenditures. It seeks to grant conscientious objectors the right to refrain from paying for war, just as they already have the right to refrain from fighting in war.
United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of more than 1400 local and national groups throughout the United States who have joined together to protest the immoral and disastrous Iraq War and oppose our government’s policy of permanent warfare and empire-building.
As an unarmed, paid civilian peacekeeping force, Nonviolent Peaceforce fosters dialogue among parties in conflict and provides a protective presence for threatened civilians. Within every combat zone we enter, and throughout our work worldwide, we want to achieve four overarching goals: to create a space for fostering lasting peace; to protect civilians, especially those made vulnerable because of the conflict; to develop and promote the theory and practice of unarmed civilian peacekeeping so that it may be adopted as a policy option by decision makers and public institutions; and to build the pool of professionals able to join peace teams through regional activities, training, and maintaining a roster of trained, available people.
Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham. Founded in 1992, the Coalition is a nonprofit organization comprised of individuals who, as an expression of their faith and goodwill, actively seek an end to the violence that is plaguing Durham neighborhoods. It sponsors prayer vigils that honor the lives of victims of gun violence and a reconciliation and reentry ministry that builds relationships between people of faith and individuals recently released from prison. The Coalition also puts on monthly community roundtable luncheons and directs a Hands Without Guns project to reduce gun violence.
Facts and Reflection about Peace
1.In 2013, Harvard researcher Linda J. Blimes estimated the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at $4 trillion to $6 trillio.
2.. Approximately 45,000 military and 8,000 civilian personnel work at Fort Bragg. “As of February 2016, 6,840 U.S. military service people have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than half were under the age of 30. http://apps.washingtonpost.com/national/fallen/ Of the 6,840 who have died, 188 were from North Carolina. http://apps.washingtonpost.com/national/fallen/maps/states/ (both sites accessed February 12, 2016)”. To the end of #2, add “Fort Bragg spans four counties and 161,000 acres”
3. The National Priorities Project reports that military action against ISIS costs American taxpayers $615,482 every hour. The same numbers for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are $4 million an hour and $117,035 an hour, respectively. The total hourly cost to taxpayers for all wars since 2001 is $8.36 million
4. As of October 2015, the war in Afghanistan had cost the U.S. about $33,000 per Afghan citizen. http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/10/01/the-war-in-afghanistan-cost-of-33000-per-citizen-and-will-not-end-well/ That same year, the cost of stationing one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan for the year was $3.9 million
5. In 2015, 16% of federal spending went toward national defense. By comparison, 4% went to food and agriculture, which includes the food stamp program, and 1% to housing.
6. In 2014, the U.S. spent $610 billion on defense, more than any other country and more than the next six highest spenders combined. China, the second largest spender, spent just over a third of the U.S. budget for defense. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-defense-budget-is-massive-2015-8
7.The $601 billion budgeted in 2015 for defense is nearly six times the amount earmarked for education ($102.3 billion) in the same year. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-us-defense-budget-is-massive-2015-8
8.According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), nations with higher levels of gender equality are less likely to witness violent conflict (SIPRI 2015 Yearbook, p. 6, http://www.sipri.org/yearbook/2015/downloadable-files/sipri-yearbook-2015-summary-pdf)
9. Global military spending for 2014 clocked in at $1.776 trillion, about $245 per person and representing 2.3% of global gross domestic product (http://www.sipri.org/yearbook/2015/downloadable-files/sipri-yearbook-2015-summary-pdf, p. 14)
- Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, http://icasualties.org/Iraq/index.aspx
Global Security, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/fort-bragg.htm