Making peace by ending violence
Joy in the midst of sorrow
Psalm 149:3 (CEB)
Let them praise God’s name with dance; let them sing God’s praise with drum and lyre!
Reflection: On a recent Travel Study Seminar hosted by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, I visited Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, South Korea. We joined our hosts at a protest against a controversial naval military base that brought internal displacement and environmental degradation to this small coastal community.
Before the protest, several activists gave us background on their work and the cause. We gathered in a small chapel with community leaders and walked together to the military base. We chanted, waved flags, and carried signs decrying injustice and unwanted foreign involvement. I reflected on the similarities between the situation in Jeju and the fight in Vieques, an island of Puerto Rico that dealt with a military base used for bomb testing over 10 years ago.
However, what really struck me about the protest was what happened afterward. We walked back to the street where the march had started, and our activist hosts gathered us and began to teach us choreography. Before we knew it, our whole group of marchers was dancing in the street!
Even as we denounced injustice and spoke truth to power, we took some time for fellowship and celebration. We were together in protest and together in joy. The celebration reminded me of the truth that joy is possible in the midst of challenge, discomfort, and vulnerability. The protest and dance were not separate activities; they were manifestations of the same Holy Spirit among us.
Action: To what communities working for justice and peace do you belong? Do these communities practice celebration and thanksgiving alongside the difficult work of seeking justice? Today, think of one new way you can incorporate praise and joy into your work of advocacy and service.
Prayer: 하나님, we give you thanks for the advocacy work in our world. We ask your blessing on all people who stand up for what they believe — lifting up the community and speaking truth to the powers that be. Help us bear witness to your presence in the midst of sorrow and injustice. Grant us your joy. Amen
Michelle Muñiz serves as the Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the Presbytery of San Juan (Presbiterio de San Juan) in Puerto Rico. While providing support to their 15 congregations as they recover from hurricanes Irma and María, she also coordinates projects for volunteers serving in the San Juan area through the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA).
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.