Let There be Peace
In the weeks and months leading up to the election season, a clear message was being expressed – that this was the most important election of our lifetimes. Yes, depending upon one’s age, it can be debated that the 1960 presidential election (John F. Kennedy) carried a significant element of change from both cultural and ideological standpoints never seen before. However, regardless of such a historical discussion, the current state of affairs in our nation suggests a serious divisiveness that calls for peace and unity.
As a Christian faith community, we have been instructed by our Savior Jesus Christ, above all, to reflect the values of peace and unity. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus inspired his disciples to be advocates for peace:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
The outcome of elections – local, state and national – can create a positive spirit within a community, state or nation, and it can also produce anger and disappointment that result in unnecessary discord and violence. As United States citizens, our voices are heard in a variety of ways, particularly through our freedom to vote. Ideally, voting is a peaceful process, yet a polarizing ideological landscape leads to uncertainty in how people will behave post-election. While we cannot control unrest in other’s minds, as Christians we are expected to be stewards for peaceful discourse, reflecting the values of love and grace exemplified by Jesus Christ. Throughout his ministry on earth, Jesus Christ continually reminded humanity to strive for peace. While many of Jesus’ words were inviting spiritual peace into the hearts of humanity, he connected inner peace and the promise of the Holy Spirit with the peaceful ways we respond to the external world around us.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
I remember the very first election in which I was eligible to vote. Way back in 1980, my mother and I drove to the local voting location in Akron, Ohio and we cast our votes. As the oldest of three siblings, I considered it a great privilege to vote alongside my mother. Around 1980, the mood of the nation was on edge as 52 Americans had been taken hostage a year earlier at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. While the 1980 election was occurring amidst international terror, it was a reminder that our mission as Christians to show our inner peace to a volatile world is ongoing and will always be one of our primary responsibilities. The unrest 40 years ago was met with the comforting words of a beautiful hymn, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” which my mother sang with the church choir. The eloquent lyrics are timeless and are ever so appropriate now as we strive for unity and peace following what was arguably the most important election of our lives. The second stanza reminds each of us of our personal responsibility to reflect the eternal peace of God throughout each moment of our lives:
Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow
To take each moment, and live each moment,
With peace eternally, let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
“Let There Be Peace on Earth” (second stanza)
Peace and unity are virtues that should be practiced at all times. It is by the grace of God that we as Christians have the ultimate role model of Jesus Christ to guide us as we seek to help our nation reconcile through uncertain times. Let us pray collectively for our nation, sharing gratitude for our many blessings and asking our Lord for divine guidance and wisdom in sharing the Spirit of grace, love and joy on a journey toward peace and unity.
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.