My prayers this week are two-fold. On one hand, I'm praying for our nation. Every time I see the news, I'm reminded of the violence and hatred
that torments and threatens to tear our nation apart.
On the other hand, I'm praying for our children.
After a few days of Vacation Bible School, I have a picture of yellow-clad children singing in the sanctuary, running in the gym, sharing in the love of God. When I struggle to hold onto hope for the future, I look at the faces of little ones. These little ones trust that big ones - the ones wearing orange shirts - will figure things out. These little ones trust that big ones
will do what's necessary and what's right.
"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God."
- Matthew 5:9
Peacemaker - what a word. In a world filled with deep anger and animosity, is it possible to "make peace?"
Before I trusted Jesus, I didn't think so. I figured the world was a lost cause.
I despaired when I thought of the future. Now, as a follower of Jesus, I have hope. I believe in "making peace."
I believe that the world is not a lost cause. I believe there is no evil that can overcome God's love. I believe that Jesus invites me (and all of us) to follow his example - to love our neighbor as ourselves - to serve as God's hands and feet
of mercy and compassion.
What we learn from Jesus' ministry is that "making peace" is not easy. Peacemaking is not about avoiding hate. It's overcoming hate with love. Peacemaking is not about avoiding conflict. It's "seasoning" our (sometimes conflict-provoking) words (and actions) with grace and truth. It's doing our best to respond to every situation with a desire to honor the teachings and commands of Jesus Christ.
I don't know the answers to our nations problems any more than I know the answer to all of my own problems. However, I do know that Jesus calls me to trust him, follow him, and love others - as best as I can - every day. And so I will. I pray you will, too.
* Here's an excerpt from a statement offered by Bishop Bruce Ough, President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, in the aftermath of the shootings last week.
"In the aftermath of violent deaths this week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Dallas, Texas, we speak to a nation that is overwhelmed with anger, grief, frustration, and despair. These deaths have left our hearts and voices crying for justice. The preliminary evidence and the shocking video images are a convincing reminder that we have work to do. The deaths of young black males in encounters with white police officers call for the need of a bi-partisan political and legal response, beyond (but including) the statements and prayers of the church. The subsequent deaths of police officers remind us of the honorable service of the great majority of these public servants and the destructive cycle of violence and retribution. We pray for each family in their profound loss and grief... Let us together pray that God will work through us to bear witness to Christ’s call to bring healing to a fractured community and a broken world. When we cannot find the strength within ourselves, may we turn to you, for we know you call us to love our neighbor. Remind us, O God, that love casts out all fear. Make us a people of transformational change, of reconciliation, of justice and instruments of your peace." (https://www.umcnic.org/council-of-bishops-president-speaks-following-shooting-deaths/)