Pursue peace.

In my faith tradition, the two words in this title are part of our contemporary scriptures. “Pursue peace.”

That sounds so simple…but what does it really mean? I’ve thought a lot about that recently, especially in light of (1) the lectionary scripture for this last weekend in May and (2) the fact that this is Memorial Day weekend in the United States.

Part of the lectionary scripture says this (John 14:27): “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.”

Memorial Day–while often the “kick-off” celebration for summer in the United States–is actually a memorial for those who have died in the service of their country.

And so, as I think of these two things–and “Pursue peace”–I wonder. What does Christ’s peace mean?

I appreciate those who have served in the military. My husband was in the Navy during Vietnam. Two grandsons also served in the military–one a Marine who is now buried in a veterans cemetery, and the other in Afghanistan in the Army. They did what they believed needed to be done to try to bring peace.

But does it?

How many wars have been fought to try to bring peace? And how long has any of those times of “peace” lasted?

The peace that Christ promised (and promises) is not what the world expects. It’s a peace that is so much more than merely the absence of conflict! It’s right relationships… wholeness…reconciliation…completeness…wellbeing…a willingness to give back.

We’re never going to get that through force. Violence begets nothing but violence.

Pursuing Christ’s peace is not going to be easy. It’s counter-cultural. It requires us to see those we disagree with as people of value…people we need to be willing to listen to and work with the find common ground. It requires us to let go of our insistence on our own way and our confidence that we are right and have all the answers.

We don’t.

We can’t go on the way we have. Our world is hurting–desperately–and needs Christ’s peace.

Let’s pursue that peace.

Shalom is what love looks like in the flesh. The embodiment of love in the context of a broken creation, shalom is a hint at what was, what should be, and what will one day be again. Where sin disintegrates and isolates, shalom brings together and restores. Where fear and shame throw up walls and put on masks, shalom breaks down barriers and frees us from the pretense of our false selves. –Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Vulnerable Faith: Missional Living in the Radical Way of St. Patrick












This weekend is Memorial Day…

It’s a time for remembering…and, perhaps, for wishing that we would never need to use this day for remembering those lost because of war.

I remember when we visited the Vietnam Wall a number of years ago. When that war broke out, it seemed so far away–until a friend of mine…whose parents had signed for him to enter the military because he was underage…was killed. Then it became personal. When we went to the wall, I found his name and traced it. It’s hard to think how Jimmy might have turned out–he is forever locked in memory at the age of 17.

Then it became even more personal, when my then-fiance (and now-husband) left for Vietnam right after we became engaged. He was in explosive ordnance disposal–dealing with disposing of booby traps of various types.

Years passed, and war seemed far away…until our oldest grandson entered the Marines. He was so proud… He went to Iraq for a year–and came back home…but not the way we wanted. He arrived back in the States in the fall…called us on Thanksgiving–and was excited about being home for Christmas. We knew he had not had a good experience in Iraq, but we could hardly wait to give him hugs.

Then two Marines came to our daughter’s house–on Jay’s 21st birthday. In trying to deal with his experiences in Iraq, he became one of the casualties. He didn’t die from a bullet, but he was also a war casualty, Tender-hearted young men–men who want to make a difference…but who find themselves in situations that require them to make choices they never thought they would… We need them!

And now his younger brother is in the Army. He’s served a stint in Afghanistan but is back in the States. His enlistment is up this fall, and he’s going to go into the Reserves.

I honor them this Memorial Day weekend–honor their willingness to respond to a call, even though I may not agree with their choice. But I hope and dream of a day when our children will no longer learn war…when we will learn to see each other as brothers and sisters…and find a way to live in God’s peace.