Yesterday evening I was at a great session looking at how we read and understand the Bible and one ‘throwaway’ comment from the speaker was that the roots of ‘exchanging the peace’ at communion in church is to make sure we are right with one another before we share bread and wine together. This comes from the context of 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul corrected bad habits that the church had got into when sharing communion. It’s not intended to be a hugfest or a way of making sure everyone is welcomed.
Then this morning I heard that today is World Peace Day. It began with one man’s vision for a day of peace across the world, in 1999, and has grown to become a day that is endorsed by the United Nations.
One of the thoughts underlying the movement is that if we can’t have peace for one day a year, what hope is there for 365 days a year? I appreciate the thought and am so encouraged by the possibilities of this movement, and am in no way critical of what they are achieving. But what I am struggling with is that people in conflict can hold a one day truce and they go back to trying to kill each other. It’s like the famous football match on Christmas Day in World War 1, when the British and German soldiers met in no-man’s-land, played football and exchanged gifts. Then the resumed the slaughter the next day.s. It has resulted in peace in Afghanistan for a day a year for three years during which 4.5 million children have been safely vaccinated! You can find out a lot more about the day at this website. Filmmaker Jeremy Gilley, the founder, became concerned with issues of what it means to be human and peace and has done something remarkable. If there was ever a good candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize he is!
Peace is not simply an absence of conflict, it is a change of attitude that seeks the well-being and wholeness of others. Stopping fighting is a good start, but only a change of heart will make a lasting difference.
A literal translation of Psalm 46:10 is “Let go / surrender / stop fighting and know / be aware / experience that I am God.”
Blessed are the peacemakers… so what will you do today for Peace Day? Is there someone with whom you need to make peace? Can you make a truce with someone with whom you are in conflict? Can you help make peace for others? Can you help people know God so that they can let go of hatred and experience peace?
Be blessed, be a blessing.
A rabbi and a priest get into a car accident and it’s a bad one. Both cars are totally demolished but amazingly neither of the clerics is hurt.
After they crawl out of their cars, the rabbi sees the priest’s collar and says, “So you’re a priest. I’m a rabbi. Just look at our cars. There’s nothing left, but we are unhurt. God must have meant that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace the rest of our days.”
The priest replies, “I agree with you completely. This must be a sign from God.”
The rabbi continues, “And look at this. Here’s another miracle. My car is completely demolished but this bottle of Kedem wine didn’t break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune.” Then he hands the bottle to the priest. The priest agrees, takes a few big swigs, and hands the bottle back to the rabbi.
The rabbi takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap on, and hands it back to the priest. The priest asks, “Aren’t you having any?” The rabbi replies, “No…I think I’ll wait for the police.”