Pray+Act for Peace

1 Ukraine 13: a reading for today, by Thom Shuman

If I talk in the rhetoric of politicians and commentators, but do not speak peace, I am a beating drum or an amplified guitar. And if I know what tomorrow will bring, and know the secrets of the universes, and if I trusted everyone, but do not seek peace, I am empty. If I sold everything I have and donated it to non-profits, and if I signed up to be an organ donor, but did not share peace with those around me, I have wasted my chance to matter.

Peace has no use-by date; peace is gentleness; peace does not want what it does not have; peace does not flex its muscles or play war games; peace does not push others out of the way. Peace does not lust after another’s country, or cling to ancient grudges; it does not pout or hold its breath and kick its feet on the floor; it never plays tricks on someone else, and refuses to raise false flags. Peace puts up with others’ foolishness, sees the best in other people, seeks common ground with everyone, persists to the very end.

Peace never gives up. The politicians will disappear into history, the talking heads will run out of words; the wisdom of all the experts will turn to dust. For we do not know how the story ends, and our best guesses are just that, guesses. But when God’s time finally comes, all the pieces of the puzzle will fit. When I was a child, I practiced duck-and-cover, I watched movies about missiles coming out of the air, I had nightmares of nuclear winters; but when I grew up, I discovered the path of peace. Now, though the mirror is fogged by the steam of heated rhetoric, I can see the faces of my siblings in humanity. In this time, I struggle to understand, but the day will come when we realize we are in this thing called life together and can only live if we care each other.

Yes, faith, hope, and love are bedrocks for our lives, but what we need to craft right now is peace.

© 2022 Thom M. Shuman

for what shall we pray this night?
for children trembling at
the noise of explosions around them,
and older folks being revisited
by ancient nightmares of nuclear war.

for families hoping to find enough
petrol in order to flee fears,
and for those who can ill afford
rising prices for everything as
war breaks out in Ukraine.

Gentle God, hear our prayers.

for what shall we pray this night?
for families who continue to live
in conditions none of us would accept,
and for those who will shiver
in cold parks and doorways this night.

for those who long to return to work
but wonder if management cares for them,
and for others who never get
a call back for a second interview.

Jesus of Justice, hear our prayers.

for what shall we pray this night?
for relationships which have been strained
to the breaking point and beyond,
and for the people who try to build bridges
to those on the other side of divisions.

for people caught up in enmities
which go back centuries and centuries,
and for all who pray for peace, work for peace,
seek to be peace in the broken places.

Spirit of calm, hear our prayers.

for what shall we pray this night?
for all these spoken prayers
and for all whispered in our hearts,
God in Community, Holy in One,
hear our prayers, hear our prayers. Amen.

© 2022 Thom M. Shuman

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