Season of Peace Reflection for 10/1

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. For “Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Reflection: One of the overtures shaping the 219th General Assembly (2010)’s action clearly sought to encourage our church to become a “peace church,” not simply opposing particular wars but affirming nonviolence as a basic orientation toward conflict—abroad, at home, and in our everyday lives. The Assembly was not asked to take that position in 2010, but rather to put that basic question of war and violence before the whole church in relation to a wide range of Christian responses to our changing context in our nation and our world.

At the same time, there is growing recognition that nonviolent direct action can be a powerful alternative means of responding to conflict, as it has proven successful in struggles for justice, human rights, and self-determination around the world—even overthrowing some of the most brutal dictatorships ever seen. From the independence movement in India to the US civil rights movement; from the anticommunist revolutions in Eastern Europe to the role of peaceful protests in overturning white minority rule in South Africa; from the role of the churches in delegitimizing violence in Northern Ireland to the Arab Spring protests in North Africa and the Middle East and the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya—there are many examples of nonviolent action producing massive social change.

Question for discernment: Is the PC(USA) now being called to become a “peace church,” not simply opposing particular wars but affirming nonviolence as a basic orientation toward conflict—in our daily lives, in our communities, and in our world? If so, what would the implications of such a stance be for those in the military, for those in military industries, and for our witness in society?

Prayer: O God, you are against those who do evil, and so you teach us to overcome evil with good. In recent years, you have surprised us by the power of nonviolent action and the impotence of military might. Guide us in our pursuit of peace, that our use of military intervention might decrease and our use of nonviolent alternatives might increase.

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