September 2, 2018
Desmond Tutu, the retired Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, says, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
As a key leader in the movement that toppled apartheid in South Africa, Tutu confronted entrenched evil that needed overwhelming change. He recognizes that small steps toward good have a cumulative effect that builds a more virtuous society.
The racial divide in the United States remains one of our country’s most troubling afflictions, and one of the ugliest manifestations of this disease happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, on an August weekend last year. Several right-wing extremist groups converged on the city to protest the removal of a Confederate statute from Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park. Some protesters carried Nazi symbols and chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans. They clashed with counter-protesters and the ensuing violence resulted in the death of a counter-protester. Approximately 40 other individuals sustained injuries.
Like many Americans, Presbyterian pastor Jon M. Brown was distraught to the point of numbness by the events of that weekend. However, his hope was restored on the following Monday morning. His spirits were lifted by dozens of elementary-school children who had gathered for Peace Camp at the congregation he serves, Old Bergen Church in Jersey City, New Jersey.
“To see children of different races, ethnicities and faith traditions singing, laughing and creating together was a powerful medicine for all of us in that moment,” he said. The camp was sponsored by local Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations.
The children learned about ways to resolve conflicts and how to handle angry and sad feelings. They brainstormed about what is needed for a good neighborhood and built model neighborhoods out of cardboard boxes and other materials. The camp’s themes were adapted from a curriculum that was developed with funding from the Peace & Global Witness Offering.
The Peace Camp represents one of the “little bits of good” that Tutu encourages. It challenges us to find ways to bridge the chasms that exist in our own communities.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s “A Season of Peace” provides opportunities to equip ourselves for Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. Online resources are available to help make this a time of encouragement, challenge, inspiration and education for congregations, small groups, families and individuals. These reflections and prayers address peacemaking from the personal level to the global level.
“A Season of Peace” begins tomorrow and culminates on Oct. 7, World Communion Sunday, when the Peace & Global Witness Offering is received. Your participation in “A Season of Peace” will make you more attuned to the little bits of good that will overwhelm the world.
Pat Cole, Communications Specialist, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Today’s Focus: ‘A Season of Peace’
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Gracious God, may we hear your call to make a difference through small acts of good. Help us not to be overwhelmed by the vastness of the world’s ills, but through your grace may we join with others to overwhelm the world with the peace of Christ. Amen.