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Blessed are the peacemakers

You may remember that in the past I have used this forum to reflect on my attempts to be super-organised; I’m a list writing, duplicate calendar, arrive-half-an-hour-early kind of chap. However, as you may well imagine, and again as I have commented in the past, all too often my organisational plans can go awry. A fortnight ago as I began to think about writing this week’s reflection I had another great plan. I had happened upon a wonderful quote by C.S. Lewis written in the 1940’s, which I was planning to use as the basis for my reflection - all was well, and my efficient forward planning saw me get this one in the bag almost a fortnight early.

However, those more regular readers of the RM team’s weekly musings may well notice that my dear colleague Alison eloquently covered this topic, using the exact same quote only last week! So my thoughts this week, though not based exclusively around Lewis’ quote do embrace the question Alison helpfully asked; namely, ‘how should we live in THIS age of anxiety and worry and fear?’ One of my initial responses upon which I’ve been reflecting this week, is that we should seek to live as those who work for peace. Jesus says in Matthew 5:9 that ‘God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called children of God’ (NLT), but what ought that to look like I wonder?

Firstly, I’d suggest seeking to be a peacemaker can on occasion involve sacrifice. Earlier this week Marina Ovsyannikova an editor on Russia’s Channel 1 TV news programme entered the studio during a live broadcast brandishing a placard and shouting ‘stop the war, no to war.’ She made a massive, and extremely brave personal sacrifice in the name of peace, and is now very likely facing fifteen years in jail. I pray, Lord have mercy on her, might she indeed be blessed as she seeks peace. Of course, we need wisdom before we brandish our chosen placards or bang our own dear-held drum, peacemaking is not protest; we can’t solve every conflict, but I wonder what small sacrifices might we be called to make as we seek peace in our own context?

Working for peace can also be about humility. Many of us currently find ourselves avidly praying for peace in the Ukrainian conflict, and rightly so, please don’t stop. Yet often peacemaking begins in the home, in family relationships and in our churches and communities where historic hurts and unforgiveness can easily fester over many years. Are we willing, in humility to take the first step towards resolution, laying personal pride aside and bringing peace in the words we choose? Do we really need to challenge that person over a minor theological nuance or seemingly disagreeable element of their lifestyle?

Finally, a peacemaker is someone who reconciles people with God and with each other. How we pray for God to grant wisdom to those mediating in talks between Russia and Ukraine. On occasion it requires us to actively take the initiative, seeking to build bridges between the parties at odds. Sometimes we’re called to mediate, to listen, to empathise and to pray that all involved may ultimately be reconciled to God.

How then should ‘we live in THIS age of anxiety and worry and fear?’ The old adage think global, act local* comes to mind as we seek to apply the seventh beatitude to our lives. As peacemakers we can reflect the divine character of God in our actions to a hurting world. Might we this week as we ask God for wisdom, be a people who are willing to sacrifice, walking in humility and working towards reconciliation.

Alistair Birkett

Director: Scotland & Northern England

* Interestingly, the original phrase ‘Think global, act local’ was attributed to Scots town planner and social activist called Patrick Geddes before Coca Cola et al used it.,_act_locally


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