Jesus teaches that the greatest commandments are, first to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and second to love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). He then adds that loving only your neighbor is not enough. We are to love our enemies as well (Matthew 5:43-45a). These teachings are at the core of Jesus’ message and ministry. We are called to do as he did. To strive to be perfect as Jesus was perfect. That is to, in the manor of our living, be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. We have a powerful message to share with a needy world. It is a message of salvation, of covenant relationship with Christ, of oneness with all the people God created. It is a message of peace.
The concept of ‘peace’ in the Bible has a broad range of meanings. The Hebrew word Shalom, includes well-being, health, unity, abundance, wholeness, fullness of life and the absence of war or violence. It also includes being in harmony with creation. That peace comes from God is clear (Ezekiel 34:24-27). It comes when God and his people are in a covenant relationship with each other. When the people break the covenant, peace is lost.
Jesus came into the world as the prince of peace to offer a new covenant that will restore the relationship between God and those who covenant with him (Romans 5:1). Unlike in the Old Testament when the identity of ‘God’s people’ was narrowly defined, the new covenant in Jesus is offered to all people (Ephesians 2:13-22).
Entering into covenant with Christ affects our relationships with people as well – all people, not just those who also follow Christ. Accepting this covenant - being in right relationship with Christ makes us one with each other across the lines of race, class, nationality and anything else that can separate people. Living in this covenant relationship - that is peace (Colossians 3:15; Romans 12:18; II Corinthians 13:11).
Church of the Brethren, Districts have Shalom Teams which are called to help people resolve conflicts when they arise. The goal is to prevent division and brokenness and restore wholeness. Shalom Teams look to the Matthew 18 passage which provides a framework for addressing conflict within the church.
The goal is “empowering congregations, and districts, to maintain and enhance healthy relationships and to deal creatively with brokenness in its earliest stages.” The Team can be most helpful if called to help when a conflict is beginning.
The Shalom Team has four main functions:
The Northern Ohio District has a Peace Task Team which is responsible for working with the District Peace and Conciliation Advocate to plan peace education programming in the District. The Team works with pastors, congregations, and the District youth to help support the peace of Jesus. The Task Team helps teach Biblical peace principles, listening skills, conflict resolution skills, and offers support to those who are oppressed by the many forms of violence that are common in our society. The Task Team also provides support for those who are called to seek nonviolent alternative ways to serve if our nation imposes a military draft.
In addition, the Task Team is responsible for the Peace Auction at District Conference which is the primary funding source for the District's Peace Endowment. The endowment is intended to fund Biblical peace education efforts in the district including the stipend for a District Peace and Conciliation Advocate.
Contact the District Peace Task Team, through Linda Fry Peace and Conciliation Advocate, or the District Office.
District Peace Advocate firstname.lastname@example.org
The Peace & Conciliation Advocate works with pastors, congregations, and the District youth to help people of all ages learn peacemaking skills including Biblical peace principles, listening skills, conflict resolution skills.
Contact the District Peace Advocate email@example.com
“Take a Moment to Pray for Peace” will be posted new each week. It will include a prayer, litany, or reading; and prayer list suggestions for the week. These may be used in Sunday worship, other gatherings, or in your personal devotions. Permission is given to print them in your Sunday Bulletin.
Peace will not just happen. Peacemaking needs all of us. We start with prayer because prayer keeps us in touch with God and His loving care for all his people. Prayer is praise, thanksgiving, intersession, and sometimes lament, as well as opening our hearts to hear God’s calling and leading in our lives. Where do you see a need for God’s peace in your life, community, or this world? Where and how is God calling you to be His peacemaker in those situations and places? We are called to pray without ceasing (Luke 18:1; I Thessalonians 5:16-18). Take a moment to pray for peace regularly as part your ceaseless prayers! Click here for this week's post.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16-18