Blessed are the Peacemakers, All Through the Year

doveOriginally, I had my article for this edition written. It was beautiful, filled with words arranged in such a way you would have laughed, cried, and had your heart strings tugged by all of the emotions that were poured into it. Then I watched the events in Paris unfold.

When I first saw the events unfolding, with the pain and suffering being inflicted on innocent civilians, my first thought was that it was not fair! I wanted to scream at the TV. These were men, women, and children who just wanted to watch a soccer match, or hear a concert, and they’ll never get to go home again. That is not fair. I wanted to find those who were responsible and repay their acts with more violence and, at the same time, I wanted to find the victims and hold them close and comfort them and remind them that God is with them.

One day, Jesus sees a large crowd gathering so he walks up a certain hill and he sits down and starts teaching the people around him. He reached them by saying “Blessed are those who make peace, for they will be called God’s children.”

On days like today, when events unfold that shake our lives, we often find ourselves asking questions that revolve around “What do I do next?” or “How do I go forward?” We look for answers and sometimes we respond with violence, invasions, or military action. Other times we answer those questions with tighter borders and security pat-downs. However, Jesus answers that question by telling the crowds the best response is to work for peace and that by working for peace, we are acting as a child of God.

Working for peace is never easy. It is always easier to throw a fist, yell, scream and hit back just a little bit harder than we were hurt. But, the way forward for God’s children is not through revenge, guilt, or blaming others, rather, it is through working for peace. Working for peace is about giving up our right to get revenge and to instead seek to comfort those who mourn and extend love to those who are suffering. When we extend love to those who are hurting we make a way for peace. Through love, we make a way for peace to exist in the midst of chaos and violence.

Too often though, making peace by extending love is confused with excusing behavior, consenting to the violence, or participating in the oppression to “keep the peace.” This is not what love does. This is not what peace is. Sometimes peace is a quiet strength that comforts the hurting and cares for the wounded. Sometimes peace is a line in the sand that says “this is not right.” Sometimes love is a deep bear hug and tears shed along with those who have lost a loved one. Other times, love is a refusal to tolerate the wickedness that exists in this world, not just against humans and organizations but against the darkness that surrounds us and the sin that invades the hearts of people.

As we approach Christmas we see this peacemaking being lived out in the birth of Jesus. With the birth of the Christ child, the God of the universe makes a declaration that all people are loved and that this world matters but God can no longer tolerate the injustice, darkness, and evil that has become so prevalent. Through the birth of Jesus, we see not just a new life but a new hope that this world is not too far gone, that peace will prevail, and that God will set this world right again.

So then, in the midst of our dark days, whether they are caused by terrorism, poverty, injustice, disease, or our own stupid mistakes, may we be called God’s children by working for peace and extending love to all those around us.

Worship services are held at California United Methodist Church, 227 Third St., every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. On the first Wednesday of each month, the church hosts a community potluck at 6:30 p.m.

To help support the CUMC’s Weekend Feeding program, which feeds hungry kids, visit gofundme.com/weekendfeed
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Written by Pastor B.T. Gilligan for Pennsylvania Bridges