Thursday, September 21, 2017

We commit to the study and practice of nonviolence

 Matthew 5:1–10

Submitted by Rev. Ginna Bairby

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Reflection: I love the beatitudes because they turn our conventional value systems upside down. They cast aside the way a fallen world assigns worth and lift up the veil, for just a minute, so that we can see the values of the Kingdom.

The world says, “Blessed are the powerful, for they get to set the rules. Blessed are they who build up their militaries, for might makes right. Blessed are they who die with the most stuff, for they shall win.”

But Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

When I preach on the beatitudes, I remind listeners that we have domesticated them. We’ve heard them so often that they don’t shock and surprise us the way they should. I usually offer a few “modern-day beatitudes” to suggest how the crowds might have originally heard Jesus’ words. How about . . .

Blessed are the refugees.

Blessed are those on death row.

Blessed are you who have AIDS.

Sound a little more like the world’s value system turned upside down?

The beatitudes invite us to be creative. To turn old values and practices on their heads and replace them with new ones. To use the imaginations God has given us to turn a broken world upside down.

Action: Try writing your own “modern-day beatitudes” for peacemakers. Who might you include among the “blessed?”

Prayer: God of the Kingdom, turn our hearts and minds upside down and inspire our imaginations to creative resistance in your name. Amen.

Rev. Ginna Bairby is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Taos, New Mexico. Previously, she served for several years with the PC(USA)’s Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministries and as a Young Adult Volunteer in Lima, Peru. She is a graduate of the College of William Mary and Union Presbyterian Seminary and is the editor of the book Worldchanging 101 by David LaMotte.

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:

  1. Peacemaking is essential to our faith.
  2. We have sinned by participating in acts of violence.
  3. We reclaim the power of nonviolent love.
  4. We commit to the study and practice of nonviolence.
  5. 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.

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