Filling, holding, stilling
All creation (including me!)
We are made and called to be people of peace. This was a key message I heard during the 2021 LEA Ministry conference. These words have become an invitation to me to be, and become, a person of peace in the moments and vocations of my life.
Recorded in Matthew’s gospel, as Jesus taught people about what it meant to be truly blessed, he said, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
And then in John’s gospel, as Jesus sought to comfort and assure his friends, Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Writing to Jesus’ followers – Jews and gentiles who lived in Ephesus, Paul wrote, For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross… Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens…
To summarise, we hear in these passages that God has made peace between us and God and between one another … that God gifts us with peace… and that God invites us to live into that peace… to be peacemakers in our worlds. For me these are all challenging words. How is God’s peace a feature of my lived reality? How might peacemaking be part of what God is calling me to?
I believe God is calling me to the kind of prayer which practises letting go… letting go of the burdens… letting the reality of God be bigger than everything. This kind of prayer takes time. It is an intentional space where my whole person, my whole body, is making space for God’s reality, God’s peace to fill me, to still me and to hold me, and all of creation. Ngangikurungkurr woman Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr says: “We wait on God… We don’t worry. We know that in time and in the spirit of dadirri (that deep listening and quiet stillness) his way will be clear.” I am deeply aware that it is then out of this God space, this God reality, that I am called to be a co-peacemaker with God.
Apostle Paul speaks of the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile. These are not the groups which feature in my world. But I do inhabit a multicultural world, a multi religious world, a world of conservative and progressive, a world of the vaxxed and the anti-vaxxer, so what might peacemaking look like amidst all of that?
For me, peacemaking looks like intentionally acknowledging and valuing diversity and difference. I think peacemaking looks like intentionally letting go of the monologue and making a safe space for every person to feel that they are a fellow citizen, not a stranger or a foreigner whose words and questions don’t belong. Interestingly Apelach man Tyson Yunkaporta says “yarning… has protocols of active listening, mutual respect and building on what others have said rather than openly contradicting them or debating their ideas… enriching what is being said… Monologues are rare in Aboriginal culture..”
I think peacemaking looks like asking: whose voice have we not heard? And where might be the space to listen and learn? Peacemaking looks like a commitment to relationship across the divides… it looks like reciprocity, humility… it looks like real dialogue, encountering the other expecting to learn how to be human together.
May the peace of Christ overflow in our hearts and lives. May we listen to God’s invitations to walk in God’s way of peace.
Stephanie serves the LCAQD as Director, Identity & Formation, Lutheran Education Queensland