Preparing for Conference: Reflection on Peace
By Seth Bryant of Joshua Tree, CA, USA
The temple shall be dedicated to the pursuit of peace. It shall be for reconciliation and for healing of the spirit. It shall also be for a strengthening of faith and preparation for witness.
By its ministries an attitude of wholeness of body, mind, and spirit as a desirable end toward which to strive will be fostered. —Doctrine and Covenants 156:5 a–c
“There are some events so overwhelming you can’t simply be a witness, you can’t be above it, you can’t be neutral, you can’t remain untouched by it. Simple as that. You see it. You live it. You experience it. And it will be with you all of your days.”
This reflection of Joe Galloway, a war correspondent at Ia Drang, Vietnam in 1965, spoke to me.
I have not experienced anything as horrific as the Battle of Ia Drang. But, as a US Navy Chaplain, Galloway’s words haunted me. I like to think of myself as a neutral observer; that being a non-combatant insulates me from war. It does not.
Over the last year I’ve ministered to US Marines and Sailors who have fought in Afghanistan. Sometimes you can clearly see their wounds. More often, it’s the unseen wounds that are most haunting. Their stories deeply affected me. How could they not? I was bearing their burdens beyond the time that was useful for them or me.
My pain came to the surface while at the 2013 World Conference in the Community of Christ Temple in Independence. In a worship service we sang This is My Song, including the line, “O hear my song, O God of all the nations, A song of peace for their land and for mine.”
As we sang, I began to weep over the insanity and cost of war. I was wearing my uniform, which has a small cross on each shoulder. Racked with pain, it felt as though these crosses were heavy beams weighing down my shoulders with great pressure. Then, God assured me these burdens were not mine to carry… at least not indefinitely. In that moment, I felt God’s healing compassion. As my pain had been unbearably heavy, God lightened the weight and gave me strength to bear it.
The Temple is a place “for the healing of the spirit” (156:5a). I went forth better able to minister, full of the Spirit.
I believe Joe Galloway may be right—some memories will never leave you. But through Christ’s grace, I trust that we can still find peace.
Prayer for Peace
Compassionate, God, thank you for bearing burdens. Thank you for the gift of time that heals and for your Spirit which comforts. Thank you for the grace of Christ’s peace which we commit to share with the international community.
Spiritual Practice: Peace Action
God calls Community of Christ to ministries of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit. PeacePathways is a church–sponsored web site sharing peace and justice ministries, resources, and opportunities. Visit the web site www.peace-pathways.org/ and discern one ministry that speaks to you or captures your attention. Offer a prayer of blessing on the peace ministry you select. Listen quietly to see if God is calling you to additional responses to this ministry or another ministry of peace, reconciliation, or healing. If you cannot visit the web site, offer a prayer of blessing on all peace ministries.
Today, God, I will lay my burdens at your feet.