Peacemaking and practice
By Rev. Patrick D. Heery
John 4:4–30, 39–42
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty.”
Reflection: Two thousand years ago, a scar ran across the land of Palestine, separating Judea from Samaria — two groups of people ideologically and ethnically opposed. Segregated.
Then, one day, a Jewish man — whom some reputed to be the Messiah — crossed that line. He sat down at a well, at midday, tired and thirsty. He asked a Samaritan woman to give him a drink. And when she registered her shock, Jesus — her supposed enemy — did something even more surprising. He talked to her as an equal. They talked about faith and theology, about the future of their two peoples.
It wasn’t easy. Trust had to be earned. Over and over again, the conversation threatened to veer into sectarianism. But Jesus kept talking about that water. The kind of water that life — I mean, real living — isn’t possible without. The kind of water that, when you drink it, you know you’re somebody because you’re loved and protected by the only Body that matters.
To this woman, for the first time in the Gospel of John, Jesus spoke the divine name, the name uttered to Moses in Egypt, the name that cried for a people’s freedom. And when she heard this name, she dropped her jar and ran back to the city, where she told her people to come and see the Messiah.
This is the pathway to peace. People who know each other care about each other, and people who care about each other stand up for each other. If peace is vulnerability, relationship, experience, and witness, then it is ultimately not an idea but a practice. It is building bridges and crossing divides. This week, you are invited to reflect upon peacemaking in practice around the world.
Action: What line are you too afraid or angry to cross? Cross it today. Meet someone. Discuss how your two communities can work together for mutual peace and thriving.
Prayer: O Living Water, quench our thirst for hope and justice. Wash away all the scars that border and sever the body of Christ. Rain down peace. Amen.
Rev. Patrick D. Heery is the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn, New York, and is the former editor of Presbyterians Today and Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice.
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 divides
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.