Faith Matters: Life is too short to waste it on waging war

September 21, 2013 

Saturday is International Day of Peace, a day first celebrated in 1982.

First proposed by the United Nations, this year's focus is on educating for peace, something dear to the heart of the congregation I serve.

Peace Presbyterian Church has offered to elementary school children a day of learning and fun called Peace in the Park on teacher workdays and other school holidays.

Our understanding of peacemaking is essentially this: First, peace begins with understanding oneself to be created in the image of God and precious.

Second, peace meansappreciating others -- family, friends, neighbors, strangers -- are equally precious, valuable people, with differences that we can appreciate, if not celebrate.

Third, peacemaking means learning to communicate clearly and listen carefully to others, especially when we have strong differences of opinion.

Finally, we consider peace with our planet means having an un-derstanding that we belong to one anotherand caring for the Earth and all its creatureswill be beneficial to all.

Think of how different the world would be, ifwe could simply appreciate the value of everyhuman life, and treatone another with thedignity each deserves.

What if we had the maturity to look beyond the despicable actions of people to consider their unmet needs?

What if we spent more time praying for others than critiquing them?

What if we spent more energy working for peace than watching media debates about the lack of it?

Instead of filling our heads with information about the latest randomact of mass violence, we might spend our time making friends with someone different from us, attending worship at the faith community of our choice, or doing something constructive to help people in need (i.e. Habitat for Humanity or the Food Bank)

The people of Peace Church go every Thursday morning to prepare bags of food for people in need at Beth-el Farmworker Ministry in Wimauma. There are many other good things we could do, but we choose this regular act of service and peacemaking.

We have a peacemaker coming Oct. 18 from Madagascar and we will listen and learn about the world from her perspective.

We pray for the leaders of communities and countries, whether we agree with them or not.

In our worship, we hear the message every week that Christ has forgiven us and called us to forgive one another.

We believe because of Jesus Christ (the God-human), all walls are down between God and humanity. Our job is live this truth.

Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they call be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9).

Are you doing all you can to be a peacemaker in your home, school, neighborhood, city, country, and world?

When you know what makes for peace, work on it.

Do it.

Apologize, listen, forgive, listen, be compassionate, listen, compromise, listen.

And when you do not know how to make peace, work on being humble and praying without ceasing.

Listen to God's Spirit.

Life is too beautiful and short to waste it fretting over all the violence.

Work for peace.

Rev. Elizabeth M. Deibert, pastor of Peace Presbyterian at 10902 Technology Terrace, Lakewood Ranch, can be reached at edeibert@mindspring.com or 941-753-7778.

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