Let the Peace of Christ Rule
[Excerpted from The Journey of a People: The Era of Worldwide Community, 1946-2015, Mark A. Scherer, Community of Christ Seminary Press, 2016, pp. 233-238]
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. …And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -Colossian 3:12-17
Alfred Urban’s story begins in Berlin in the early 1960s-a time of crisis internationally as well as in the life of the German Church. The Soviet Union had dominated the German Democratic Republic since the close of the Second World War. The Berlin Wall went up almost overnight in August 1961 and stranded many church members in the East. The Soviets set up a repressive government regime in East Germany. Government officials arrested anyone they considered suspicious including Alfred Urban’s brother. He never returned.
For an entire generation Alfred Urban was the church’s voice and leadership presence in the German Democratic Republic. On many occasions he and his family could have defected easily to the West… But he refused to leave the church members in his charge. He mentored many church appointees in Germany.
Alfred Urban was a tireless advocate for those he served. At times he pushed the limits of the Communist government’s tolerance toward him and the church. The East German government discovered the great success church members had fleeing from the Eastern Sector into the West. The official reprisal was to deny the church’s public worship, especially in Urban’s Brandenburg home, so Urban protested the action. He went to the local police station to appeal the diktat. Amid the heated exchanges, one policeman threatened to hold Urban personally responsible for any more members that defected. Greatly frustrated, Urban slammed his fist on the policeman’s desk and charged back, “And I hold you responsible. If you would make life livable here, nobody would want to leave.”
The church missionary knew that people had disappeared for lesser offenses. He realized that he had just jeopardized his personal safety and future ministry, so he turned from the police desk and walked away hoping he would not be detained. Later he told…that as he left the office, “he felt a presence by his side and a comforting hand on his shoulder.” He left the police station unharmed. Urban shared that he had never felt such peace and assurance that God was near him.
On 30 June 1984, Urban died in Grossr\xc3\xa4schen, where he had given so many years of effective ministerial service.
Let your world of beauty capture me.
Growing a Gracious, Generous Heart
Open your heart to God’s grace and generosity with a “breath prayer.” Let your breathing slow and deepen. Be aware of God’s breath moving in and out of your heart. Spend several minutes focusing on breathing in God’s generosity. With each breath, silently name one gift for which you are thankful. Let your heart expand to contain God’s gracious outpouring of love. With each breath out, name one gift you want to share from the overflow of your heart.
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.