“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15, NIV
Starting in October, we will have a special worship series using the Living Peace Curriculum put together by On Earth Peace, an agency of the Church of the Brethren. This is a six week study that would encourage us to consider what it would look like if our congregation lived like a peace church led by God, following in Christ’s footsteps, and inspired by the Spirit. Along with these topics in worship, we invite you to join us in a daily Bible study and weekly reflection questions. The Living Peace Gathering group will also be hosting four lunch conversation opportunities in the Fellowship Hall after the 11:00 AM worship (October 11, 18, 25, and November 15) for us to continue the conversation together.
Peace is a word used throughout the Bible. In Hebrew, the word is shalom and in Greek the word is eirene. In the Old Testament, shalom is used just under 500 times and in the New Testament, eirene is used just about 100 times. This is clearly something of importance to God and something that God wishes for humanity. However, each of these uses of the word peace in the Bible do not refer to the same type of peace. Sometimes it refers to the way in which we treat one another, sometimes it refers to our relationship with God and God’s relationship with us, sometimes it refers to our own paths of faithfulness. There are different levels of peace in the scripture, moving from peace found within oneself and peace found in God all the way to a universal peace.
Now Pastor Tim and I are not naive. We realize that, ironically, conversations revolving around peace have been a divisive issue in this congregation. We all have different understandings of what peace means and what peace looks like. Our prayer is that we can all enter into this conversation with fresh minds and open hearts as we strip away all of our prior experience with this word and hear afresh God’s call to peace.
So much of what we are already doing is answering God’s call to peace. We seek to strengthen our own faithfulness which brings us inner peace. We reach out in service to our community through Micah’s backpack, Youth Club, REACH, Hagerstown Area Religious Council and more. We support organizations that are helping people in crisis. We have reached out to our Nigerian brothers and sisters with our prayers and our resources. But could God also be calling us to more?
Our hope is that through this worship series we may keep our eyes and ears open to the movement of the Spirit in our congregation. Is God calling us each to a deeper faithfulness that would lead to greater inner peace? Is God calling us to find better ways to deal with conflict with our neighbors? Is God calling us to seek the peace of our city in a greater way? Is God calling us to consider our own place in God’s vision for universal peace? The curriculum will invite us to look within ourselves and our congregation to find the gifts we already possess to be able to live out peace in our world; led by God, following in Christ’s footsteps, and inspired by the Spirit. Because only in and through God, can we truly have peace.