“So then we pursue the things which make for peace …” (Romans 14:19)
In an earlier post I shared that my one word for 2020 is PEACE.
I went public with something very personal. I described an experience of anger that that frightened me. And I declared my intention to never go to that dark place again.
I shared my commitment to spend this year working for peace within myself, with others, and in the world (especially in the church).
So how am I carrying out that commitment?
Here are some of the “things which make for peace” that I am pursuing. Maybe some of these will be helpful for you:
- I begin each day praying what is commonly known as The Prayer of Saint Francis.
- I’ve been listening to musical settings of that prayer, like this one by Sarah MacLachlan.
- I just finished an online course in the spirituality of Saint Francis called “Beyond the Bird Bath.”
- I’ve been watching the videos on peacemaking in the spirit of Saint Francis from Taming the Wolf Institute.
- I’m signed up to attend the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center Mediation Skills Training Institute. (In fact, I should be there right now, but it got postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
- Thanks to a special arrangement with the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, I’ve been trained by the Arbinger Institute to facilitate their “Developing and Implementing an Outward Mindset” workshop. (Good news: Arbinger is working to develop a version of this workshop that can be delivered ONLINE!)
- I’ve been paying attention to the movies and TV shows I watch. Less violence. Less vengeance. More stories of reconciliation (like “The Two Popes”) and love for neighbor (like “The Lady in the Van”) and real-life heroes (like “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood“).
- I’ve read some amazing books so far this year:
- Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron
- Water into Wine and A Farewell to Mars by Brain Zahnd
- The Guardians by John Grisham
- The Good Neighbor (biography of Fred Rogers) by Maxwell King
- Redeeming Conflict by Ann M. Garrido
- Tales from a Free-Range Childhood by Donald Davis (His gentle humor and heart-warming stories are a wonderful source of peace. And the fact that I live where all these stories took place makes them even more fun to read!)
- I’ve deleted the Apple News app from my phone.
- I rarely go on Facebook. I just can’t take the political vitriol. I know, I’m missing out on a lot of great photos and life events. But PEACE is my priority right now. I just can’t go back to that dark place I was in last December.
- I’m developing a consultation process for helping churches deal with the Protocol for Grace and Reconciliation through Separation. I’m passionate about helping churches navigate the upcoming split in a way that leads to peace. I’ve already talked with one pastor about facilitating this process in her church (once we get to start having meetings again).
- I’m pursuing spiritual practices of prayer and reflection on Scripture. Some resources I’ve found helpful:
- Websites offering “Daily Office” prayers, such as The Divine Hours and the Northumbria Community.
- Peacemaking Devotions by P. Brian Noble.
- Pray As You Go — beautiful music, powerful Scriptures (read in a beautiful accent), and insightful questions. When I get up and I don’t feel like praying, this app/podcast/website helps me focus like nothing else.
- The wallpaper on my computer desktop is a version of the painting The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks. It’s a fascinating painting with a powerful story behind it. There are 62 different versions of this painting in existence. The one you see above is in the Reynolda House Museum of Art in Winston-Salem.
- I’m paying special attention to my relationships with those around me, especially the ones I love the most. When problems arise, I address them as soon as possible. Life is short. Relationships are precious.
- When I’ve been invited to fill in as a guest preacher, my sermons have had a peacemaking theme.
- I’m praying that God will use the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing restrictions to instill in us “the things that make for peace.” But that’s another blog post… (STAY TUNED)
I hope one or two of these things might prove helpful for you.
This year has already seen a nasty impeachment trial, and unless COVID-19 prevents, we’re going to endure a nasty election cycle.
We United Methodists are looking at a split. General Conference has now been postponed, but unfortunately that may just ramp up the vitriol and animosity.
Now we’re facing an unprecedented global pandemic that has the potential to bring us together or drive us further apart.
In all of this, I long to live at peace and to make peace.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace …”