September 21, 2023
In the past several months, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations has been leading peacemaking efforts in Israel-Palestine, the Korean Peninsula, and Sudan and South Sudan at the U.N. Some of these conflicts have been around as long as the United Nations has been in existence and appear intractable. Others are new, such as the war in Ukraine, as we note with concern the rising levels of political instability around the world. Peace is fragile, and justice is hard-won.
Most recently I had the privilege of participating in the International Meeting for Reconciliation in Colombia hosted by DiPaz, an interchurch platform for dialogue for peace in Colombia. It followed on the heels of the signing of a cease-fire agreement between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) that brought hope for greater sustainable peace in Colombia.
Churches have played a vital role in the peace process. Whereas the U.N. approaches peace as cessation of violence and peacebuilding as conflict management, I met church leaders who have a deep and abiding commitment to transformative peace and reconciliation, by building bridges, trust and understanding through dialogue. Local churches and presbyteries have accompanied communities that have no access to government services in hard-to-reach rural territories that are targets of violence.
The church envisions a radical peace, ambitious in scope, beyond path of law and coercion, not about dominating the enemy but transforming it, not to oppress but to live out in justice and harmony. Recognizing the fragility, but always striving toward the peaceable kin-dom.
“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. … The wolf and the lamb shall feed together. … They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.” Isaiah 65:17-25 (NRSV)
Sue Rheem is the coordinator of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. She is PC(USA)’s representative to the United Nations advocating for the PC(USA) General Assembly policies at the United Nations.
Today’s Focus: International Day of Peace
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
God of Peace, we pray for peace not as the world gives it, but for the transformative peace for which Christ came into the world. May we be instruments of your peace wherever we go. Help us to be reconcilers and repairers of the breach. Help us to build a new world community of peace, justice, and outpouring of love to realize God’s Shalom. We pray for this peace in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.