Making Peace as a Child
Peace in Relationships
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. (“The Message”)
Reflection: Children’s Ministry and peacemaking go together like hugs and kisses, like mud puddles and splashing feet. Depending on the context, young children can be very open to new ideas and learning, and they are generally quick to forgive. With guidance and trust, they welcome those who are different, as they become cognizant of their many similarities. Digging a trench in a sandbox is much more fun with a buddy. You don’t need to speak the same language or come from the same neighborhood to play a game of chase. Laughter, like tears, is so much better shared.
For the adults that are privileged with the opportunity to be involved in Children’s Peacemaking, it is well to remember that it is guaranteed to be an exhilarating, exhausting and enlightening endeavor. It is much easier to teach peace when all the “isms” have not yet been internalized. Each of us (teacher and student alike) needs to know that we are beautiful in the sight of God, but not any more beautiful than our neighbor.
Remembering an almost five-year-old, who told me that she needed to know about “stuff like cooperation and negotiation before I go to kindergarten,” I am very aware of the plethora of joys and hopes children discover and share about many things, including peacemaking. After all, children of any race, gender, ability, sexuality or economic position seek the peace of affirmation and love — just like the rest of us older children.
Practice for Peacemakers: Find a stash of crayons in your home or order a box of 64. Collect some paper for your creation. Light a candle, put on some peaceful music and begin. Choose a crayon and doodle, draw or simply move a crayon across the page with light strokes. Think about the movement of your hand and what an awesome creation it is, while contemplating the wonders of which this color reminds you. Perhaps write words using an orange crayon (pumpkin, fall leaves, a harvest moon, the peace of a campfire). When you are ready, change to another color. Continue until your papers are full or you have run out of crayon colors. Take five deep breaths and say, “Amen!”
Prayer: Amazing God, wrap all of your children in the comfort of peace. Help us imagine and create ways to be a good neighbor. Forgive us when we are quick to judge, and help us muddle through the misinformation we devour. Remind us of the joy of children, and encourage us at all ages to play (maybe with a five-year-old). Amen.
Now retired, Suzanne Gangemi most recently served as director of family life ministry at Mountain Rise UCC in Fairport, NY. Much of her career was focused on building programming centered on helping children to grow into their calling as peacemakers.
This year’s Season of Peace Resources are designed to help participants explore practices for building peace on every scale. From the personal level to global issues, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Throughout the 29 days of the 2020 Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect upon:
Week 1 September 6–12: Peace Within
Week 2 September 13–19: Peace in Relationships
Week 3 September 20–26: Peace in Community
Week 4 September 27–October 3: Peace in the World
Final Day October 4: Holistic Peacemaking