Oh, what a horrid month it’s been. Beirut, Syria, Iraq, and Paris (and many, many others not highlighted in the news). So much violence, destruction, fear, and confusion.
What can we do?
How do we carry on with our real lives and not ignore the reality of such deep pain in our fellow humans?
We can feel so helpless.
I haven’t been writing much this month for all kinds of reasons (mainly, if it doesn’t come, I just don’t force it), but I felt an urge to sit down and get some of these thoughts out yesterday.
My faith continues to shift. What seemed super important a year ago seems less in-front-of-me today. I keep growing and changing and learning.
I think that’s how it’s supposed to work. New themes emerge, passions grow. We continually transform.
And what feels right in front of me right now is centered on peacemaking.
Making peace with God, others, ourselves.
Being makers of peace.
Cultivators of heaven on earth.
Restorers of dignity.
Advocates against injustice.
Vessels of “shalom” (which means wholeness).
People who bring unity, not division, healing, not harm.
Jesus with skin on.
It’s so clear that so many are in desperate need for more of this–everywhere we look, up close and far away.
So how do we get there?
How can we become makers of peace?
Our broken human systems are so strong, how can we make a difference?
This is where we need each other to get there.
Being an individual peacemaker is a start, and I truly believe what happens in the smallest sense is what can be created on a larger scale over time. Our individual contributions do matter. They make a difference to someone. They represent Hope to someone (and that’s worth it, always).
However, I also think that without others, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, we won’t have as much of an impact in shifting the wider systems that are deeply bent against peace.
Small ripples of peace matter. But a whole bunch of ripples of peace will turn into a movement of peace.
I have already written a lot about cultivating little pockets of love that help heal and restore people (and is my best definition of church and why I am passionate about it still) and little pockets of freedom (where we can step into who we were created to be).
And in the same vein, I truly believe it’s time for more and more little (and big and everything in between) “pockets of peace.”
Pockets of peace.
Spaces and places where we can cultivate peacemaking alongside others who are humbly willing to try to live out the ways of Jesus, too, not knowing exactly where it all leads but clear that we can no longer just sit and listen and stay on the sidelines.
Where we can be challenged to consider our bias’ and prejudices and all of the ways we have participated in systemic injustice that is central to the brokenness we are reckoning with today.
Where the power of the Beatitudes can become deeply embedded in our flesh and bones.
Where every contribution matters and we don’t measure our worth or passion by how loud our voices are or how much we sacrifice or how deeply we advocate or whether our particular issue-we-care-about is the hottest new topic or not.
Where we can wrestle with God and our faith and our souls in the midst and not have it all buttoned down.
Where we can gain strength and encouragement to bring peace into the brokenness in every little way we can.
Just like little pockets of love and freedom, little pockets of peace can look so different in all kinds of contexts. There’s no formula, no “right way”, no “this is how it’s done”, no “perfect size.” Some pockets will care about certain issues and others will care about others.
The beauty is in our common goal–to become vessels of peace.
And there are only two ingredients–other people and a humble willingness to learn and practice and try.
The brokenness, the division, the “us and them” around us is too great to ignore.
The violence too horrid.
The apathy too painful.
Oh, the world is crying out for makers of peace.
For people who can cross divides and break down all kinds of barriers.
For people who risk their pride and comfort for the sake of change.
For people who refuse to return evil for evil.
For people who embody Jesus in ways that make people go “huh, that was weird, I actually felt love when I expected something so different.”
For people who are so secure in their own freedom that it’s easy to offer it to others.
For people who refuse to let fear blind them.
For people who can see both our own and other people’s dignity–God’s image in us–first and foremost.
I think that always was the big idea for Jesus’ body here on earth.
What I love right now is that people are tired of the domesticated, fear-based, separation-infused faith that is so often represented in mainstream modern Christianity.
It’s a beautiful thing to see the tides begin to turn, even though we have a long way to go.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” – Matthew 5:9
Oh, God help us bravely create more and more pockets of peace–spaces and places where heaven crashes into earth and we are all made more whole.