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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Minute for Mission: A Season of Peace


The First Day of A Season of Peace

September 3, 2023

Celebrating 40 years of the Commitment to Peacemaking

“Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36; John 20:19, 21, 26)

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I wonder how many times I’ve said or written “peace be with you.” It is a greeting many of our congregations use weekly as an act of worship. It is a salutation I use in many of my correspondences. It’s such a common utterance to me that I sort of forgot that it’s biblical, too. Good for me for citing Scripture with such regularity. The phrase comes to us from the Gospels, spoken by the resurrected Jesus when he appears to the disciples behind locked doors. It is a way he makes himself known to them.  

Offering the peace of Christ is a way the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) makes itself known in the world, too. And this year marks the 40th anniversary of the PC(USA)’s Commitment to Peacemaking, a tool for Presbyterian congregations and worshiping communities to shape their peacemaking ministries. Cue the balloons and streamers. By affirming the Commitment, congregations and worshiping communities do a number of things. They declare that working for peace is an essential mission priority. They establish a framework for implementing peacemaking in their corporate life. They invite their members and friends to work for peace in their own lives, households, communities and world. And they challenge themselves to grow in and pass on peacemaking ministries to future generations.

Jeff Kellam, former director of the Video Education Center at the school previously known as the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, recently emailed me some archival video footage of the early days of the Commitment to Peacemaking. The videos feature Mike Maus, who was an NBC News journalist and a member of the General Assembly’s Peacemaking Advisory Committee in the mid-1980s. They are nostalgic, almost time-capsule-like looks at peacemaking when the Commitment to Peacemaking was still quite young. They capture the deliberations of congregations about the Commitment, the enthusiasm of members for this new expression of their call as believers, and the varied ways the Commitment was being lived out.

Forty, as you may know, is a biblical number: raining for 40 days and 40 nights, 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, and so on. It is a number of fullness, completeness and basically a lot of time. Forty years of peacemaking is worth celebrating, so we might just get a Peacemaking sheet cake and put 40 candles on it. But when the party is over, we need to resume our Commitment. The peace of Christ must still be shared and the Commitment to Peacemaking must continue to be lived out in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Today begins another “Season of Peace,” one that continues until World Communion Sunday, Oct. 1, when the Peace and Global Witness Offering is received. Subscribe to the daily Path of Peace reflections delivered to your inbox each morning. Check out all the resources, including “Peace Cards” for children, a five-session adult Bible study, a five-session lesson plan for children, a coloring poster and an intergenerational peace fair.

The Rev. Carl E. Horton serves as the coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program with the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, September 3, 2023, the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Today’s Focus: A Season of Peace begins

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Bridgette Lewis, Mission Specialist, Young Adult & National Volunteers, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Clare Lewis, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Presbyterian Investment & Loan Program

Let us pray

O God, we give thanks for 40 years of the PC(USA)’s Commitment to Peacemaking. We celebrate the many and varied expressions of peacemaking in our congregations, mid councils, and denomination. As we begin this year’s Season of Peace, open us to new insights, inspire us to greater faithfulness and guide us in the ways of peace, for you are our peace. Amen.