This last Sunday was the Advent of Peace. As we continue to travel toward the manger let us focus on the coming peace of Christ. It reassures us that no matter what is going on in our lives and the world that there is hope for change which will bring about peace to all. It is not for one or just a few but for all people to have. It's a peace beyond our understanding, something more than we can imagine, and can only be known through the experience of seeking God. So seek Christ this Christmas. Move toward the stable searching for something more and miraculous. Hear and experience the message of peace brought by the Christ child which echos off the mountains and canyons communicating, "Be calm, I am with you."
Let this video below provide support as you focus on the peace in you and all around you.
For those needing to find a place to worship online let me know as there are various virtual churches Midlands Mission Center has.
This week do something that brings you peace!
This week is the Community of Christ World Conference held in Independence, Missouri. Every three years delegates from all over the world come and discuss policies of the church and give direction to where the worldwide church is going. Here are a few pictures of the Temple where part of the event is held. It is open to anyone and dedicated for the pursuit of peace in the world.
This year one interesting topic for discussion is related to resolution 1273 regarding nonviolence. I think its an interesting topic for dialogue for anyone which is why its the focus of our post today.
The resolution "identifies Community of Christ as a peace church and encourages us to seek ways to achieve healing and restorative justice. Members recall the Christian Crusades, the colonial history of mother nations, and the nationalisms that led to world wars from 1914–1918 and 1939–1945. In addition, in 2018 the world commemorated the end of World War I."
"This resolution calls for Community of Christ to reject all forms of violence, including acts of terrorism, war, and the financing of wars. It also calls the church to confront and resist injustice while rejecting the notion that violence on Earth and violence against Earth can be addressed separately. Further it urges Community of Christ to continue supporting peace education and inviting members to embody Christ’s nonviolence through local, global, ecumenical, and interfaith actions."
Whereas Jesus taught in Matthew 5:44 “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”; and
Whereas, No known Christian writings between 100 CE and 313 CE approve of Christian participation in warfare; and January 2019
Whereas, The founding vision of Community of Christ was of the peaceable kingdom of God on Earth, a nonviolent Zion with economic justice for all; and
Whereas, Community of Christ has been admonished from its earliest days to hear the words of the Living Christ and to listen again to the voice that calls us to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom of God on Earth; and
Whereas, Community of Christ has a logo, inspired by Isaiah 11:1–10, that shows how nonviolence is central to the way we conceive of peace; and
Whereas, Community of Christ, today is called to become a prophetic people that embodies in the lives of its members the ministries of the Temple through the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit; and
Whereas, Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles and Mission Initiatives call us as a people to share Christ’s peace throughout all of creation and embody God’s love for all creatures; and
Whereas, Previous World Church Resolutions such as WCR 1177, WCR 1216, and WCR 1227 have supported nonviolent methods in establishing peace; and
Whereas, Biblical scholarship continues to highlight the potential for nonviolent peacebuilding inherent in the New Testament’s witness to Jesus; therefore be it
Resolved, That Community of Christ reject all forms of violence, including acts of terrorism, war, and financing wars, and act upon Christ’s invitation to practise nonviolence and (confront and resist) injustice; and be it further
Resolved, That Community of Christ reject the notion that violence on Earth and violence against Earth can be addressed separately and affirm the importance of addressing the environmental causes of conflict; and be it further
Resolved, That, through its Enduring Principle of Worth of All Persons, Community of Christ opposes all ideologies of violence and injustice, including those expressed in diverse forms of nationalism, populism, racism, and bigotry; and be it further
Resolved, That Community of Christ continue its support of peace education and invite its members to embody Christ’s nonviolence through local, global, ecumenical, and interfaith actions toward justice and peace for all.
4 Parts of Nonviolence
When I read through the resolution there are 4 identifiable parts that stand out.
1. Reject all forms of violence
2. Practice good stewardship of the earth by eliminating violence against it
3. Confront and resist unjust ideologies and actions promoting violence
4. Support and embody peace education
I think most people support peace and nonviolence in our world. However in regards to injustice and war, thoughts can change from the ideal of having no violence to the thought that some action (which may be violence) is necessary for the overall protection of peace and welfare for others.
This is a really difficult line for some to figure out exactly where they stand. It seems we must genuinely ask ourselves what is peace and welfare for us and the world? Try to imagine what that would look and feel like if we lived this out.
We may also have to ask what is real peace and how is it acquired? Whose peace matters more? And is there such a thing as just war? If so what is it?
I believe this statement strongly challenges the Community of Christ to firmly stand up for nonviolence in all settings no matter what circumstances may befall us or the world. This stance is no easy task as it falls on the members to answer the difficult questions presented by this resolution. Here are just a few:
How can I completely be nonviolent if I work in law enforcement or the military?
How does our material consumption and industrial growth bring violence to the earth? And what responsibility do I hold in this?
What role should I play when I see wage disparities, lack of inclusive business policies, and/ or systematic abuse of individuals?
How does this resolution impact personal ideology related to gun ownership?
Ghandi stated "Poverty is the worst form of violence". In what ways does this challenge our actions as a church, congregation and people?
Living nonviolence is one of the most powerful things we can do based on this Tedx Talk by Ken Butigan. Dr. Butigan is a professor at DePaul University teaching Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies. Dr. Butigan talks about his personal story, life of activism and how the world could actually live in peace. Take a few minutes and listen to his profound words and experience.
Research Behind Nonviolent Movements
Throughout history there have been many violent and nonviolent movements. Forbes wrote an article in 2014 about the success of nonviolent resistance titled "The Proven Superiority Of Nonviolent Resistance". It's an interesting article based on the research of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan who studied 323 movements throughout 1900-2006. They found nonviolent resistance was twice as likely to be a successful method when compared to violent movements. You might also enjoy checking out their article, "Drop Your Weapons: When and Why Civil Resistance Works" published by Foreign Affairs.
What Do You Think?
Now that you have read the resolution with a few other resources, where do you stand? What is your stance on nonviolence in general? What earlier questions were challenging for you? What do you think about the resolution?
I encourage you to discuss this topic with others. Start the conversation and see where it goes. If nothing else leave a comment on this blog.
Big thank you to all those following along each week! You all Rock!
This week identify and write down what being nonviolent means to you and how that challenges you to live.
When my oldest son was younger I would rock with him singing songs before bedtime. Often he would say, "Sing Peace Daddy, Sing Peace." At that age he did not know the name of the song so he configured language he could use where I would understand. The song was "I've got Peace like a River." Since than, the phrase "Sing Peace" has always stuck with me.
I love the images that float through my mind as I think of Singing Peace. However they quickly dissipate when I think of those in the world experiencing personal shame about their own self worth. Those in conflictual relationships that are unable to make amends. And people witnessing or involved in violent acts that will forever change who they are.
All these images make me realize eve more we need to "Sing Peace". But how do we do that in ourselves, our community, and our world? What are our personal or communal barriers which have halted the expression of Peace? How is the Christmas season related to Peace? What can I do to bring about peace in my world?
Finding Peace in Ourselves
It seems singing peace into our world should start with ourselves. First inner peace is a way of living! It's not some unrealistic goal that leaves us levitating above the ground. Peace is living within ourselves, our emotions and our environment. However the tricky thing is life happens which creates imbalance. Sometimes its minor unsettledness and others a significant unease that brings irritability and other emotions.
So how do we find and work toward peace in ourselves? Any change always starts with a step. If you want more peace on your journey first take a small practical step. There are many ways to do this but check out Henrik Edberg's "15 things you can start doing today to help you find inner peace". If you are wanting peace in your relationships than go to this article from the blog Tiny Buddha to help.
Peace this Christmas
The video below was produced by Nick Snyder in 2016. It does an incredible job identifying why we need peace in our world and how Christmas is about bringing peace to that world.
Creating Peace in Our World
What would the world be like if we strived for peace? What can we do to sing peace in our communities?
Listen and Be Aware - Listen to your neighbors and people in your community. Open your eyes to what you see. It is in those basic skills that needs are realized and opportunities for peace happen.
Promote Nonviolence and Inclusion - Actively use your voice to promote lifestyles of peace. Create open communication and environments in your life where all are welcome and safe.
Daily Prayer for Peace - Community of Christ does a daily prayer for peace in their temple in Independence, MO. Dec. 3rd marks their 25 anniversary of praying daily for peace in a specific country across our globe. If you are interested in taking part in this or learning more about it go to the Daily Prayer for Peace.
Donate to a Worthy Cause - Check out organizations before you just send your money to make sure they match your values. If you are looking for organizations creating peace in communities I would suggest you explore Outreach International, HealthEd Connect, OxFam America or Energy For All.
I want to leave you with the song, "Peace, Salaam, Shalom" by Emma's Revolution. Emma's Revolution is made up of two peace activist musicians Pat Humphries and Sandy O.
May Peace rest upon all of you this week! This week take another step on your journey by creating peace in yourself or your community. Next week come back as we discuss the virtue of Love!
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.