Christian Peacemaking Images and Reflections
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Jesusí words, as he wept over
Jerusalem, are more compelling today than ever: "If this day you only knew the
ways that make for peace..." (Luke 19:42). Surely Jesus
weeps today as he did then. He weeps over Littleton,
CO; over Jonesboro, AR; over Pearl, MS; over Paducah, KY;
over Springfield, OR; and every other school and playground where children are killed, especially by other
children. And Jesus weeps over Oklahoma City,
memorialized in granite, as he weeps over every other community and country
where people are killing people. He wept over the
violence at the World Trade Center towers and the violence in Afghanistan.
And Jesus continues to weep over his beloved city of Jerusalem
and throughout his "Holy Land." Today, Jesus needs more than our own tears of
mourning. He needs us to teach and live the ways that
make for peace. These ways that make for peace have been
articulated in a unique way in the Pledge of Nonviolence.
In the face of escalating violence, the Pledge of Nonviolence offers
individuals, schools, youth groups, families, and faith communities a way of
living each day nonviolently. "In the face of escalating
violence, escalate love."
The Cross of Jesus
The cross of Jesus imaged on the chain link fence surrounding the bomb site in Oklahoma City speaks volumes Ė "168 Reasons to Love One Another." While many in Oklahoma City and around the US wanted the death penalty for Timothy McVeigh, others rose above their pain and rage and heard the words of Jesus: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Bud Welch was one of those courageous Christians who reached out to the father of Timothy McVeigh and then to Timothy himself. What made this gesture of reconciliation so profound was that Budís 23 year-old daughter Julie was one of those 168 victims.
What does Budís act of forgiveness say to you? How does this cross speak to your heart?
The cross of Jesus standing starkly and boldly against a backdrop of incredible violence and hate at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, challenges our compassion and courage. It speaks of the presence of Godís love in every circumstance of life, of Jesusí sacrificial love so remarkably reflected in the willingness of the rescue workers who entered those buildings to save lives at the cost of their own. It may also remind us that sacrificial love is ultimately the only force that can truly overcome violence and hate; that retaliation only escalates the spiral of violence.
What does this cross say to you about Godís will for the world? About what it means for you to be a disciple of this Jesus?