We have sinned by participating in acts of violence
Submitted by Rev. Terra Winston
As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.
They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.
Reflection: The violence that most of us participate in every day is structural violence, the violence of injustice, of discrimination, and of silence. The danger of structural violence in our society is that it can creep into our lives so subtly and disguise itself as fact rather than assumption. It can be difficult to recognize and to change. However, God has given us examples of listening, of opening our hearts, of non-judgment with which to begin to engage this type of violence. So it is up to us to decide which sort of house and structure we want to build in our world.
Action: A friend remarked that so often when we talk about Rosa Parks, we speak of the actions of Ms. Parks and the bus driver, but rarely do we speak of the inaction of everyone else on the bus. Today’s challenge is to find those places in the world where you can see structural violence and speak up about it in ways that are both natural and unnatural for you.
Prayer: In our church, O God, we gather in community. In our nation, we are divided. To be the church in this nation divided is to risk opening our doors as a place of refuge for those targeted for violence and humiliation. We must follow the example of Jesus as he stood with the most marginalized. We cannot be silent nor close ourselves off to those in need. May our churches be courageous communities. Amen.
Terra Winston is the Delegations Coordinator for Christian Peacemaker Teams. Through her work, she often travels to Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Hebron in the West Bank as well as working with Indigenous Communities in North America. Terra also works in Donor Relations at the Christian Century magazine. She received her M. Div from McCormick Theological Seminary and a ThM. from Princeton Seminary.
This year’s Path of Peace reflections are based on the Five Affirmations to Guide the Peacemaking Witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Writers were recruited to help us explore the following affirmations as each week of A Season of Peace unfolds:
- Peacemaking is essential to our faith.
- We have sinned by participating in acts of violence.
- We reclaim the power of nonviolent love.
- We commit to the study and practice of nonviolence.
- We will practice boldly the things that make for peace.
Each author writes Monday–Friday, beginning with the first affirmation and ending with the fifth. The authors represent a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts, and each week presents a new ‘voice’ to walk you through the affirmations. The weekend devotions, written by the editor, also reflect the five affirmations. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 3, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 1.