Pilgrims for Peace – a reflection

Chris Collins is one of our new trustees and came to the island of Iona for FoR’s centenary celebrations.  He is a Methodist minister in Wolverhampton and ponders here what challenges he will be taking away from a week on a remote island with other peacemakers.  You are encouraged to leave a response underneath.

Tertullian, the prolific third century Christian writer viewed the moment Jesus told Peter to put his sword away as an “ungirding of us all.” We are all to put our swords away and follow the way of peace and nonviolence. As I was reminded of that during our “Pilgrimage for Peace” as part of the Iona Community last week, I reminded myself that being a disciple means I have to be for peace and peacemaking. It is not an optional extra, an add-on if there is time. It is not other-worldly but completely of this world. Peace making is a response to the whole of creation groaning in pain, waiting to be saved from the ravages of destruction. Peacemaking is about allowing the kingdom of God to be seen. Peacemaking is recognising that we are all made in God’s image, fearfully and wonderfully. Peacemaking is about allowing us all to find and flourish in God’s love for us and the whole of creation.

So to say I am a peacemaker is all well and good. But if peace is to come, we actually have to make it! And that means I have to do something!

I think it means I have to lay some things down. I need to constantly challenge what I am told about the world and ask myself, through which eyes do I view things? For this we need reliable and credible information about places and situations that goes beyond the news headlines.

But what do I do once I have the information? While praying and acting are perhaps the obvious answers, the less obvious and more challenging is exactly how! I had a few thoughts while away on Iona and perhaps others will have similar or better ones…

Could we be organised to pray without ceasing for peace? Could we invite people to commit to a dedicated half-hour slot each week to pray for peace so that there was always someone praying? Could we hold regular peace prayer services in all of our churches?

Could we encourage each other to write specifically about peace issues to our local, national and European politicians – and plan our responses to the letters we receive back?

Both of these are good starting points for me but I wonder if I need to be a braver peace-maker and be bold enough to take nonviolent action myself? For if I don’t who will? If I don’t do it now, when will I?

But how about you? I wonder if you are going to do different things now? Let’s keep talking, encouraging each other to pray and to act for peace.

2 thoughts on “Pilgrims for Peace – a reflection”

  1. Barbara Calvert

    Hi Chris
    Thank you for your thought provoking reflection and suggestions. One or two more thoughts…
    To be peacemakers is such an important calling but it is not high on our church calandars’ list of priorities. I wonder if we are better to go for time bound commiments to pray and act for peace in our churches. In other words, rather than a slot each week, we adopt the fairtrade model and go for a ‘peacemakers fortnight’. This could be in February to include Valentine’s Day. (Desmond Tutu proposed Valentine’s day be put to better purpose as a day of peace.)
    We also needs lots more creative resources to use in our ‘Sunday schools’., Messy Church, all age services so peacemaking is not so cerebral but feeds body, mind and soul and changes us.

  2. Hi Barbara and Chris,
    The Peace Education Network have recently produced this resource pack aimed at primary age children https://www.quaker.org.uk/teach-peace-pack – thought it might be useful. In some countries/cultures valentines day is already more about friendship and peace. Also how about focusing on Peace Day in September? Pax Christi’s Peace Sunday works well too – in January picking up on the Pope’s New Year peace message.

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