Peace on Earth
I marked the end of my first month at St. Stephen’s the same way I began: taking part in the First Friday Walk for Justice and Peace. I was invited to offer the opening reflection:
About a year ago I joined the board of Pacem in Terris, a local, grassroots non-profit engaged in the work of making peace. Pacem in Terris was founded in 1967 and, if you think of the news from back then, it’s no surprise that much of their early work centered on promoting world peace and urging an end to war. If you’ve lived near Wilmington long enough, you may remember seeing Pacem in Terris anti-war protests on some of the busier streets in our area.
I’m not sure if world peace seemed too unattainable a goal or if it’s just that modern sensibilities shifted, but over the last several years Pacem in Terris has refocused its efforts locally, still concerned with peace-making, but within the perimeters of our homes, our neighborhoods, and our city. Pacem in Terris now proclaims its mission as “building relationships that transform minds to foster healing and peace,” observing that “peace is created by ordinary people in their communities. Peace is what we do every day. Peace is how we treat the person in front of us.”
This sentiment goes to the heart of why I participate in these First Friday walks. Peace on earth may be a gift from God, but it doesn’t come down from on high like magic. It’s most sustainable when it grows from the ground up, as ordinary people get to know each other and come together in common purpose, especially the common purposes of resisting violence and working to mend division in our communities.
God our creator, by your holy prophets, you taught your ancient people to seek the welfare of the cities in which they lived. We commend our neighborhoods to your care. Give us strength of purpose and concern for others, that we may create a community of justice and peace where your will may be done, through Christ our Lord. Amen (Adapted from ELW “Prayers for the Neighborhood”)
Do you recognize the building in the accompanying photo? It’s near the start of the First Friday walks!