“Being a peacemaker means my prayer becomes visible in concrete action.” -Father John Dear
For much of the past year, I have felt God leading me deeper into what it means to be a peacemaker in our community, and more specifically what peacemaking looks like in the world of children’s ministry. A year ago, I had the opportunity to participate in an Immigrants’ Journey Immersion Trip to the San Diego/Tijuana border under the leadership of Jon Huckins of The Global Immersion Project. The focus of this experience was “everyday peacemaking” through the lens of immigration. (To hear more about that experience, please click here.) Then in February of this year, I attended a conference at the University of San Diego titled “Revolution of the Heart: The Counter-Cultural Spirituality of Henri Nouwen.”
Henri Nouwen was a beloved Catholic Priest, professor, theologian, author and peacemaker with a heart for social justice. He had very profound relationships with many people throughout his life, one of them being Father John Dear, a priest, author and social activist. Father John Dear was one of the speakers at the Revolution of the Heart conference, and what he shared aligned beautifully with Henri Nouwen’s practices of peacemaking. That is, there are three spiritual movements in the revolution of the heart regarding peacemaking. First is the Inner Revolution of the Heart, which begins with prayer. We must allow God to disarm us as we pray, followed by us having mercy on ourselves, so that we can go forward as public peacemakers. The second spiritual movement is the Public Life of the Heart, which involves revolutionary nonviolence. The third spiritual movement is Working for a New Culture of the Heart. This is the Kingdom of God here on earth.
In other words, peacemaking involves prayerfully stepping outside of our own safety and comfort, often at the most inconvenient times. Shane Claiborne, a prominent peacemaker and social justice advocate, was another speaker at the Revolution of the Heart conference. He pointed out that we can’t anticipate the interruptions that require peace. A quick peek at the life of Jesus makes that quite clear… the good Samaritan… running out of wine at a wedding… Jairus’ daughter needing healing… Shane said, “The Spirit moves in the interruptions, and we often have no room for the interruptions.”
Friends, let us begin by praying for open eyes, ears and hearts so that we may recognize these interruptions as opportunities for peacemaking, whether it be in our world, nation, community, work environment, family, church. Through our prayers, we will be centered in the holy will of God, and not just in our own feelings of anger or fear. Out of our prayers, may God move us to action.