One Step Closer to Peace
Tammy Lindle Lewis of Renton, WA, USA
Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing. -Joel 2:12-13
I reluctantly admit that I struggle with the practice of moving toward peacefulness of any kind. Upended by the events of 2020, I’ve been fearful, dismayed, angry, and at odds with long-time friends. I’m saddened by those whose social interpretation of the gospel is so different from mine.
I wrestle with a question posed by a member of my congregation: What if our best days are behind us and this is our future reality? What if there isn’t anything better coming and we must live behind masks, separated by disease, physically distanced, weakened by closed businesses and borders, struggling with economic collapse, food insecurity, corruption and power grabs, social unrest, racism, devasting climate change, strained healthcare and educational systems, and lack of effective leadership? The question sounds like facing the ultimate midlife crisis…is this all that’s left? Where is the shining city on the hill? Where are the communities of joy, hope, love, and peace that we talk, sing, and pray about? What is still possible? How will the church give voice to these many issues? What is my role? Will my voice proclaim peace amid the fear, dismay, and anger? And whispering through all of this is the question begging to be wrestled with instead: Am I moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?
I’m finding the echoes of that question come to the surface more quickly, sometimes before I act or speak. I’m slowing down and remembering to listen, read, and pray. I remind myself that I’m not always right and that I don’t always need to share my opinion. I’m joining online sessions to learn with others as we discuss climate and racial justice and a variety of topics related to peace. I’m remembering to breathe and to forgive my missteps. I’m finding ways to be better and healthier in my soul by eating, sleeping, and spending time and money in more responsible ways.
I am called first to love God and love my neighbor. I’m called to represent Christ in servant leadership, to proclaim and promote justice and peacemaking, to foster spiritual growth and wholeness, and to build bridges between people. When I remember this calling, I realize there is no time to spend in fear, dismay, and anger; and I move one step closer to peace.
Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?
Gospel Contemplation (Mark 1:9-11)
Each week during Lent, you are invited to pray with a different gospel story from the life of Christ. Use your senses and imagination to enter the text. Allow it to come to life in you, observing details, noticing interactions, even engaging in dialogue. Notice where you find yourself in the story and how you feel about what is happening. Notice what it evokes in you or invites of you. Take time to journal or enter silent prayer to reflect on your experience and to sense where the Spirit may be leading you through this scriptural encounter.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.