Discover a Season of Peace
By Joe Rittacco
Jesus calls us to be peacemakers. We see this every day as we experience our world’s need for Christ’s reconciling love, peace, and justice. We feel this as we long to know God’s peace in our hearts and relationships. The promise of Jesus “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9) is both a comfort and a challenge. It reminds us that the path of peace is something we both follow and forge.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus reads the Isaiah passage that would frame his en-fleshed life. It is here that he grounds his calling in the work of peace. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19).
In his identification with these passages, Jesus declares what he sees his mission to be. This is peacemaking: preaching good news; proclaiming freedom and healing to those imprisoned; releasing those in oppression, proclaiming the time is now. It is both inspiring and daunting to recognize that each of us has been given that very same Holy Spirit, our own call entwined with Christ’s mission to be bearers of peace and justice. We know the world needs us to follow Christ as peacemakers so that we can all live and thrive in an unjust and conflict-ridden world. It is not an easy calling, but we embark on this pilgrimage together and with the presence and guidance of Jesus.
Distractions are everywhere, threatening to pull us to the margins of living an authentic peace-filled Christian life. Important issues, breaking news, and our ragged pursuit of a more meaningful spiritual life all distract us. We are reminded of this every time we power up our computers, turn on the television, or struggle to handle conflicts in our families and communities in a way that will not alienate them or us. And we certainly experience it as we negotiate our own inner worlds of chaos and longing.
The journey of peace is a pilgrimage of our whole selves: spirit and body; heart, feet, and mind. The pursuit of God’s peace is both an inner and outer journey where the well-being of one is held in the well-being of all. In order for us to walk farther along this road of peace-full living, we can and should engage both inner and outer aspects of faithful spiritual living. Doing so allows us to become more authentic and effective bearers of peace in our world.
Because of these reasons, we (PC-USA) invites you into “A Season of Peace” that will engage your imagination and offer opportunities for you to live more fully into your calling as a peacemaker. It is for the curious and the jaded, the beginner and the experienced peace seeker. Spend a new season with Jesus, the peacemaker, and see if this might become your way of being authentically Christian in the world.
For over 30 years, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been committed to pursuing a peaceful and just world. Peace seekers and advocates, those who work and pray for reconciliation and justice, have found their home in the Presbyterian peacemaking community. In 1980, the 192nd General Assembly adopted Peacemaking: The Believers’ Calling, a document that has guided Presbyterian peace efforts. It is no less critical today. The document declares, among other things, that “the church is obedient to Christ when it nurtures and equips God’s people as peacemakers.”
“A Season of Peace,” www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/seasonofpeace/, is a four-week pilgrimage designed to deepen the pursuit of peace for congregations, small groups, families, and individuals. Through daily peace reflections, family activities, Bible studies, youth activities, an exciting intergenerational Peace Fair, and other online resources, you will be invited to enhance and expand your focus on your calling as a peacemaker. Expect encouragement, challenge, inspiration, and education.
These resources were created to culminate in the receiving of the Peacemaking Offering, traditionally taken on World Communion Sunday, the first Sunday in October. However, they are appropriate for any time. The Offering gives us a concrete way to contribute locally and nationally to the work of peace. It is the offering that funds the Peacemaking Program for our denomination, enabling us to bring in International Peacemakers, share conferences, advocate for active non-violent solutions to conflicts, and provide resources like these for congregations.