15 February 2007

Peace Sabbath

Love was in the air at Reedwood Friends Church yesterday evening; sentimentality was not. We were praying for peace, but not just in the abstract. Around the meetingroom, tables were set up with displays reminding us about places in the world where love was not the prevailing reality. At one place, a basket stood for donations to help support ministry to the survivors of the recent carjacking in Nairobi that claimed the life of Job Bwayo and one of Carol Briggs' eyes; three of the four victims have ties to our yearly meeting, two of them to Reedwood.

Other tables around the meetingroom held art supplies for those whose worship this evening would take a visual form; one table held origami paper for making paper cranes. Some attenders wrote prayers for a display board. Before going into open worship, we sang "Make me an instrument of Your peace" and the Taizé chant, "Come and fill our hearts with your peace; you alone O Lord are holy."

As I sat in my own quiet place in the room, watching the silent worshippers of all ages move from station to station, I thought of other places in the world where men and women of governments and armies were moving purposefully from station to station, planning the next attack, checking information, adjusting strategy. What if they suddenly caught a glimpse of our meetingroom? Would they recognize that our purposeful activity was significant--in fact, had eternal significance? Some would probably dismiss us as irrelevant or delusional; some would respect us but not enough to stop their own work; some would say that they're working for the same thing in a different way. And perhaps some would think again.

Other churches in our yearly meeting had also turned Valentine's Day into a Peace Sabbath. I loved reading this prayer from Olympic View Friends Church, Tacoma, Washington, circulated by their clerk, Linda Hawthorne:
Jesus we are thankful tonight. Thankful that each year at this time couples in many places have the opportunity to stop, and consider the blessings and love that exist within that unique relationship.

But tonight, we ask for more. Tonight we acknowledge that there exists within us that, which is hateful, is greedy, that which is jealous and violent, and Jesus we know--That is not what we are made for.

Tonight we remember that humanity is made in God's image. God is love, and THAT is what we are made for!!

Tonight we ask for deeper understanding of Love, of Justice, of Peace. We want to know these things, and Jesus, we want to live them!!

We know the Prince of Darkness will always fan our hatreds toward WAR and the murder of God's creation. But the Prince of Peace tells us to LOVE OUR ENEMIES.

Jesus, you have always pointed us to Peace, and Justice, and a manner of LOVE that not only changes who we are but the very world we're in.

Remind us that there is NO PERSON we can ever call ENEMY that YOU have not already called CHILD.

Tonight, shield us from anything that perverts us from being the creation you intend. We wish to know PEACE, and JUSTICE, and LOVE. And we wish to exercise them, that we might truly reflect your image, GOD.

That we might once again be everything we're made for.
Reading this prayer, I remember vividly how the words "Love your enemies" were the key moment in my own conversion. My prayer: among all the people walking purposefully through the corridors of political and military power, might at least the followers of the Prince of Peace face the spiritual power of those words, "love your enemies," and be led to experience conversion? How much would we have to love them for this to happen?

Righteous links include this standing link to Friends United Meeting's weekly prayer bulletin. Go to FUM's home page for the e-mail subscription form.

Can history survive Hollywood? Amazing Grace is almost upon us. No feature-length movie can do justice to the complexities and the cruelties of the slave trade, (as one trivial example, remember how Amistad reduced John Quincy Adams's Supreme Court speech from 8-1/2 hours to about ten minutes?), but by using the lens of this one hymn, maybe Amazing Grace can shed a new and specific ray of light on the subject.

Another intersection of faith and politics: W. Clark Gilpin's Sightings essay, "On the Migration of Religious Ideals," summarizes the hazards of the Puritan "City on a Hill" vision of America when taken out of its chastening spiritual context of humility. Gilpin's essay references Willam Pfaff's New York Review of Books essay, "Manifest Destiny: A New Direction for America." These essays coincide (?) with Brian McLaren's refreshing "Advice for Barack Obama." (Thanks to Simon Barrow for the McLaren/Obama item.)

Two items from the latest issue of In Communion, the Orthodox Peace Fellowship quarterly: The Orthodox Church issues an Iran appeal, "Step Back from the Brink of War"; and a Word Made Flesh staffer in Romania, Monica Klepac, writes on "Peace with My Body."

Speaking of Word Made Flesh, its founder Chris Heuertz recently spoke at George Fox University's chapel service during mission week. He definitely made my Right Sharing heart sing.

The current issue of Carleton College's alumni/ae magazine, Voice, includes a fascinating article on marriage surname conventions and innovations, "What's in a Name?" Their Web site provides a worthwhile appendix to the article.

For fun: Map lovers and ship lovers can unite in appreciating this Hurtigrute Web site, showing the positions of the Hurtigrute ships plying the coast of Norway, with links to the ships' webcams.

Warm thanks to all who wrote to me on and off this weblog site in connection with my mother's death. I'll be leading the memorial meeting for her at her nursing home in Zion, Illinois, March 3, 2 p.m.

Heaven done called: I just found out from the WXPN Radio Web site that Homesick James Williamson died in December at the age of perhaps 96. To hear Jonny Meister's affectionate "Blues File" tribute to this wonderful singer and slide guitarist, go to xpn.org/blues.php, look for the "XPN Blues File MP3 Download" pulldown menu, and choose "Homesick James."

I couldn't find any Homesick James video clips on YouTube or Dailymotion. (If you find any links, please tell me!) I'm comforting myself with a clip from another outstanding guitarist, Lightnin' Hopkins (1912-1982). (Watch it now, before it gets pulled. I had to find a substitute for one of the clips I used in an earlier posting--Howlin' Wolf's "How Many More Years.")

1 comment:

Nancy A said...

Thanks for the link to Brian McLaren's article to Obama. It reminds me of a quote I saw the one and only time I was at the airport in Boston.

The quote sits over a big staircase in big letters and read something like this: "When America ceases to be good, it ceases to be great."
I may have the quote slightly wrong. But it's a good line.

Watching American (and at times Canadian and British) politics over the past decade, we've learned a lot about democracy. We can't be complacent about it because it can get highjacked. But there is strength and Light in democracy, and in time, truth will turn it around.