What does it mean to commit to peace?
Taking a risk
Rev. Emily Brewer
Reflection: There was a kid in my second-grade class named Paul whom other kids called “Paul Bunyan.” Maybe it sounds innocuous, but the intent was to ostracize him, and it worked. I never teased Paul, but I was scared that if I was nice to him or stood up to the bullies, their attention would be turned toward me.
I still think about Paul and how I did nothing while he was being teased. I always come back to the question: “What do I stand to lose by acting? What do I (or we) have to gain by taking a risk?”
This story of Jesus’ ‘trial’ from Mark has a lot to teach about violence, peacemaking and risk:
- Those in power will try to obfuscate their violence: Pilate pretends he is following the will of the crowd, but he is the only one with authority to condemn.
- Violence begets violence: The crowds are violent. Pilate orders violence. The soldiers are violent toward Jesus and then turn that violence outward toward a passerby, forcing Simon of Cyrene to participate in Jesus’ death by carrying the cross.
- It’s easy to go along with the crowd: When everyone’s yelling “Crucify!” it’s easy to join in. When it seems like everyone is saying one thing, look for the people who are silent and make common cause. How could this story have been different if that had happened?
Peace does not come about through passivity, and it certainly does not come from those in power. It comes by disrupting violence through active, courageous, and often risky nonviolence.
Action: What’s a cause you care about? Who is leading the liberation movement around that issue? Show up to a meeting. If that’s not hard, show up to an action. Ask yourself what you have to give to the movement. If you feel resistance, ask yourself why. If you feel unsafe, talk about it with someone. If you feel uncomfortable, try to push yourself to do it anyway.
Prayer: God who moves across boundaries, move in our hearts and spur us to action. When we feel our hearts beat faster because we’re scared, help us wonder if that’s you calling us to take a risk. Give us community to sustain us and friends to nourish us on this journey. Help us to find joy in the struggle and to take risks for the sake of peace. Amen.
Rev. Brewer is executive director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. She was also a Young Adult Volunteer in Guatemala and Nashville, Tenn. (2009-2011). She lives in Brooklyn, New York, but will always consider East Tennessee home.
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, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the 29 days of this year’s Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect upon:
- What does it mean to commit to Peace?
- Making peace by addressing root causes of poverty
- Making peace by disrupting systematic racism
- Making peace by ending violence
- Making peace by supporting refugees and migrants
- Partaking in peace in worship and at table this World Communion Sunday and through the Peace & Global Witness Offering
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 1, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 6.