Next Sunday we will have the annual special collection for Peacemaking and Global Witness, a collection that is taken up, so suitably, on World Communion Sunday, as we think of our bonds in faith and our responsibilities across the worldwide community.
The collection is for Peacemaking and Global Witness. And peace is an integral part of our worship every week. Every Sunday we share the peace, turning to each other and speaking of peace to our neighbors, to members and visitors alike, wishing that they may experience peace, that they will live in peace. And at the end of the worship we may leave the sanctuary with the words of the benediction and charge in our ears, ‘Go in Peace!’ Peace becomes the message of what we will have heard and done that morning.
For me there is nothing rote in those words. I find those moments in worship and those shared words truly meaningful. Every week those words represent a vital call to us and from us that says we are committed to peace. Those words stir me greatly.
Yet sometimes I find myself wishing it really was so easy – I fear that our words will remain words and wishful thinking, and that peace is so far from our reality.
Peace is really hard. I thought I would list here some of the moments where our world needs peace and yet it remains so far from reality. I started that list, but it is simply too long. From Aleppo to Charlotte our world is in pain. So I looked at my own small everyday, and I recognize I certainly have moments where peacefulness is not my first response. Peace demands acceptance, and forgiveness, and sacrifice. All are difficult. Peace means not putting ourselves first. Peacemaking is surely fully an act of selflessness.
Yes, peace is hard, but we do not have to make peace alone. We make peace in community. We share the peace as a sign of our togetherness, we support each other’s efforts for peace.
We take up that collection next Sunday as a very practical sign of our church community’s support for those who take on this great challenge, for those who, quite simply, work to make our world a better place. Our resources will be used both locally and globally: 25 percent remains with the congregation, 25 percent goes to Presbytery, and 50 percent to the Presbyterian Mission Agency, to advocate for peace and justice in cultures of violence. But that collection is also part of our wider mission, in which we don’t just give financially, but we also speak, act, and are peace, to those whom we love and those whom we sometimes find hard to love.
We don’t turn just to each other as we seek to be peace. With peacemaking and witnessing to peace an act of selflessness, we also turn to the ultimate act of selflessness. To Christ’s death for us, to the death of the Prince of Peace, who inspires us as individuals and community to be his peace. For let us not forget, he told us quite clearly: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’