Partners in peace: confronting evil
By Rev. Abby King-Kaiser
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart,
I was stupid and ignorant; I was like a brute beast toward you.
Reflection: During the summer of 2001, after graduating from high school, I went on a study-abroad trip for educators who teach about the Holocaust. Our leader was an elderly Christian man who had been arrested at 17 and spent about six months in an SS prison for being part of the Dutch resistance rescuing Jews. I remember most his insistence that we look inward, over and over again, at our own evil.
At the villa in Wannsee, where white, German, Christian men constructed the final genocidal solution for the Jewish communities of Europe, he made us look in the eye of those who attended the meeting. All along the way, he challenged us to see the good and evil in absolutely everyone, regardless of their “side.”
This psalm calls me to that same inward gaze.
That fall, just three weeks into my first college semester, September 11 happened. Our campus ministry invited families of victims of 9/11 to campus to tell their stories. They told us about their opposition to the War on Terror and their search for peace, even after so much pain.
In seminary, I met a Sikh filmmaker almost my own age, who quit college to document the murderous violence her community experienced after 9/11, starting that same week, because of the fear of her fellow Americans. It was then that I came face to face with the fact that, as an American, I was not only a victim, but also a perpetrator, of terror.
Action: Find a way to memorialize the victims of hate-based violence that followed 9/11 in addition to the thousands of victims of the terror attacks. Write down their names and pray for their loved ones. If you don’t know where to start, begin with Balbir Singh Sodhi, murdered in Mesa, Arizona, on September 15, 2001.
Prayer: God of mercy, accept our confession of all that we have done and not done. Turn our hearts inward to understand our own evil, that we might fully fight evil, terrorism, hate, and violence in all its forms. Amen.
Rev. Abby King-Kaiser is a teaching elder, a mother of two, and a campus minister at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. She sees the world in pictures, which is most often translated via Instagram even though painting is more fun.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divide
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.