September 21, 2021
The International Day of Peace, which was established by the United Nations, is observed all around the world on Sept. 21 each year.
The theme of peace is prevalent at the United Nations. Its founding in 1945 came after the devastation of the second World War, and it was created “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to [hu]mankind” (U.N. Charter, preamble).
This theme of peace is showcased in the artwork donated as gifts by the member states over the years. The artwork collection ranges from murals, tapestries, stained glass windows and sculptures in and around New York headquarters.
There is one artwork that stands apart for me. It’s called “Let Us Beat Our Swords into Ploughshares.” If the title sounds familiar to some, it’s because the words come from the Book of Isaiah 2:4: “He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
The artwork shows a man holding a hammer in one hand and sword in the other. He is in motion, ready to swing his hammer on the blade to continue bending the metal into a curved ploughshare symbolizing the human desire to put an end to war and convert tools of destruction and death into a tool for the upbuilding and life for the world.
This bronze sculpture was created by Soviet artist Evgeny Vuchetick and presented to the United Nations by the government of the USSR in 1959 during the height of the Cold War, a poignant reminder that the desire for peace is universal.
The U.N. has called on member states to observe 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire on the International Day of Peace. How can Presbyterians observe this day? One way is to engage with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations’ (PMUN) U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals Study & Devotional Guide (goal No. 16 is peace) in order to build a more sustainable world. So let us work for peace in the world.
Sue Rheem, Representative to the United Nations, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, PC(USA)
Today’s Focus: International Day of Peace
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
God of Peace, we say we desire peace and yet humankind has perpetuated cycles of violence and war throughout the ages. Today, we come before you with heavy hearts, and pray for those regions where there is conflict and war and so much human suffering, inflicting unspeakable pain and misery on one another. But we know there is a better reality. … O how good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity. We long for your peace. May we dismantle the weapons of destruction and create tools for flourishing of your creation. Amen.