“Now may the Lord of peace… give you peace at all times in all ways.” — 2 Thessalonians 3:16
We live in a world that is constantly overwhelming us. Conflict arises in our families and communities. War is waged between nations and discussed in the marketplace. Instability threatens our jobs, savings or even our homes. Natural disasters strike a new place each week. Sickness, homelessness, starvation, abuse and mental illness plague our world. The list goes on.
In stark contrast to this conflict and brokenness all around us are the words of the Apostle Paul: May God grant us “peace at all times in all ways.” Peace in our families, in our work, in our worship, in our communities, in our world and in our minds. That peace is the peace of Christ.
The Peace & Global Witness Offering draws Presbyterians together and provides education and exposure to those who do peacemaking work well. It aims to form peacemakers who share and advocate for Christ’s peace in all places and spaces.
One small church in the Pacific Northwest has made it a mission to be peacemakers by helping the underserved youth of their county.
Nestled against the coastline, the small city of Bandon, Oregon, is home to First Presbyterian Church. This church has a huge heart for ministry to youth, even though its own membership is aging. The congregation of fewer than 80 members takes the Peace & Global Witness Offering each year (and has for over a decade) and uses their portion to support local organizations that serve youth. Several members extend this commitment by serving as Court-Appointed Special Advocates, serving children in foster care. These connections keep the congregation well-informed of the unique needs of the youth in their community. Their 2017 offering portion was given to the county Child Welfare Service office to purchase gift cards for the many teens in foster care. They have also given funds to local schools to help provide clothing to children whose families don’t have the means to purchase new clothing when school begins each year. In their own way, First Presbyterian is helping bring God’s peace and love to the community surrounding them.
The work of teaching, sharing, and empowering peacemaking and reconciliation works best when a diversity of approaches is taken. Twenty-five percent of the Offering will stay with our congregation to support ministries that proclaim Christ’s peace in our community. Another 25 percent joins with those of other congregations in our region to support peacemaking at a presbytery or synod level. And 50 percent supports the work for peace done by Presbyterians everywhere, including the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
As Presbyterians, we proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and the model of compassion, kindness and grace for every community and individual in this world.
Let us Pray
O God, we come to you seeking peace and wholeness, not only for ourselves and not only for those we know, but for this world full of nations, communities and individuals burdened with brokenness, conflict and despair. Yet despite this reality, we are inspired by your Spirit to have hope, for you have a plan for this broken world that ends in joy, peace and wholeness. Open our eyes to see where you are already mending and healing. Inspire us to move toward those places where your peace is present so we might be filled with peace and empowered to share that peace with others, in your name. And may our every act be modeled after the Prince of Peace, our Savior and great Teacher, Jesus Christ. Amen.