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Posted by on Aug 17, 2016

Mission: Peacemaking and Muslim Christian Relations

Mission: Peacemaking and Muslim Christian Relations

Peace Flows Like a River

Water in the Desert

What I’ve discovered … is that when we show up for people in need — when we seek their well-being, flourishing, and justice, whether they ever convert to our religion or not — we might just see the transformation we long for in ourselves and in hard-to-access places around the world. – Jeremy Courtney

Baptist missionary Jeremy Courtney, his wife, and two children found themselves in the middle of the Iraq War.  In today’s attempt by some Moslems and Christians to demonize the other in a continuation of centuries of bloody warfare, Courtney has founded the Preemptive Love Coalition.

Courtney and his movement represent a broadening of the Protestant Evangelical notion of mission to one that is more in keeping with the Vatican II Catholic notion of the Christian missionary. Courtney’s approach is to pursue peace one heart at a time. “Love first and ask questions later.” became the theme of Courtney’s approach as he started helping Iraqi children to obtain life-saving and life-changing heart surgery within Iraq by increasing the capacity and capabilities of the country to care for its own children.

Courtney opens his web page, JeremyCourtney.com, with a compelling quotation from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity about how our failure to accept and embrace people we see as opponents corrupts us and our relationship with God because it leads us to a universe of pure hatred.

Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.

– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Although C.S. Lewis wrote in the context of World War II and the Nazi regime, his words are especially relevant in our moral challenge of relating to Islam and to Islamic extremists.

Courtney focuses on the need for authenticity, since many Protestant missionaries pose as aid workers or teachers in countries that are hostile to Christianity. In an OpEd for CNN’s Declassifed – Untold Stories of American Spies – “Three Arguments Against Christian Covert ‘Spycraft'” Courtney decries this practice as dishonest, harmful to religious freedom, and because it “puts a target on the backs of local Christians”.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

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Posted by on May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014 — A Reflection

Memorial Day 2014 — A Reflection

Remembering and Honoring Those Who Died in War

Becoming Peacemakers Today

 

Many of you have directly faced the horrors of war.

Many of you have made great personal sacrifices that haunt your dreams.

Many of us have lost sons, daughters, and friends in war.

 

Today is the day we gather to remember them

And to ask ourselves if there is any way to end wars,

To end the waste of wonderful men, women, and children,

the destruction of cities and entire countries,

the destruction of Faith, Hope and Love.

 

Is there any way to keep mad men from coming to power?

Will there be a day when defense won’t be necessary?

The Lord Jesus offers us a way out of war – The Kingdom of Heaven.

 

We are sent to proclaim it,

To announce the New Law of Christ.

 

It is a path for the poor in spirit,

for the merciful, for peacemakers.

It is a path of persecution for all of us

Who are called to be its prophets.

 

Called to non-violence,

Called to speak truth to power,

Called to end hunger and want.

 

The words sound great,

but we are discouraged.

They crucified the Master

and we had such hopes that he was the Messiah,

Said the disciples on the way to Emmaus,

 

Many looked at the Mountain of Despair of racial injustice and despaired.

Dr. King picked up the stone of hope from that Mountain

and moved the world.

We prayed to St. Michael,

Worked for peace, and the Soviet Union fell.

 

A Day to Remember.

A Day of Peace.

Do this to remember me.

Bless the Peacemakers.

Now, let us draw near

To the altar of Sacrifice,

To the blessing of the bread and wine

In which Christ becomes truly present.

 

With Him,

Let us be consumed in the Love of the Father

and the Fire of the Spirit

To become the Peace of God’s Anointed

in our homes,

at work,

among the nations,

Let us be peacemakers.

As we are the Peace of Christ.

 

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Posted by on Jan 1, 2011

Mission: Peacemaking and Muslim Christian Relations

World Peace and Freedom of Religion

(Credit: Hiking Artist Cartoons – Used with permission)

This New Year’s post and my resolution comes from Fr. Cyprian Consiglio’s homily today at Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz, California. Fr. Cyprian is a Camaldolese monk, musician, and student of world religions.

A liturgy with Fr. Cyprian is always a wonderful experience. His homily was based on the theme for today’s observance of World Peace Day.

Pope Benedict XVI focused on Freedom of Religion as the theme for this New Year’s Day of Peace 2011.

Religious freedom is not the exclusive patrimony of believers, but of the whole family of the earth’s peoples. It is an essential element of a constitutional state; it cannot be denied without at the same time encroaching on all fundamental rights and freedoms, since it is their synthesis and keystone. It is “the litmus test for the respect of all the other human rights”.[8] While it favours the exercise of our most specifically human faculties, it creates the necessary premises for the attainment of an integral development which concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension.

In his homily, Fr. Cyprian reflected on the number of groups which observed peace vigils New Year’s Eve and that the growing number showed, perhaps, an increase in consciousness and enlightenment. He went to some pains to point out that many of the groups from diverse traditions did not agree on everything and probably never would. However, it is only through the free exercise of religion and the building of bridges of good will that these tensions can be recognized, managed, and appreciated.

In fact Fr. Cyprian’s life as a troubadour of peace has bridged many of these divides through the dialog of contemplation and world music. (For wonderful and challenging reflections, subscribe to Fr. Cyprian’s blog.)

The unspoken lesson: Become the Peace You Want.

YouTube – CyprianConsiglio’s Channel.

For a brief but deep meditation on peace, tune into the chants Benedictus, Namo Janitre, and Awakening performed by Fr. Cyprian and Dr. John Pennington for a truly happy entry into this New Year.

Fr. Cyprian Consiglio and Dr. John Pennington

I highly recommend Fr. Cyprian’s blog and Dr. John Pennington’s website.

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Posted by on Dec 24, 2010

A Pilgrimage on the Pathway of Peace

In Advent we journey with our sisters and brothers around the world, all children of the same God, to the Kingdom of Peace and Justice. Christ, as Key of Knowledge is our guide along the pathway of peace.

O Key of Knowledge, guide us in our pilgrimage,
we ever seek, yet unfulfilled remain,
open to us the pathway of your peace.

For you, O Lord, my soul in stillness waits,
truly my hope is in you.

My Soul in Stillness Waits by Marty Haugen, 1982

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Posted by on Dec 17, 2010

Advent – A Time to Be At Peace

We’re now approaching the fourth Sunday of Advent and the number days until Christmas grows shorter. We’ve heard readings of Hope/Expectation for the Coming of Christ in our days and at the end of days. We’ve heard readings of Peace, with images of children playing safely beside the adder’s lair and lambs being safe with lions. Readings of Joy were proclaimed last week, with the promise of the Lord coming to set things right and signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God already present in the life and work of Jesus. Next Sunday we’ll hear of the Lord’s promise and reassurance to St. Joseph that Mary’s pregnancy was divinely blessed and of Joseph’s acceptance of that gift.

As I’ve moved through these days and weeks, I’ve been reflecting on what peace means in daily life. It seems to me that peace is more than the absence of armed conflict between nations. Peace is a way of living. It springs from a place of openness and gratitude.

Peace means being gracious when another person fails to notice, even in passing, that you have gone out of your way to do something just for him or her. Peace means accepting an apology without needing to shame the one offering it. Peace means choosing to be kind rather than insisting on being right. Peace means looking beyond the gift one has received to see the love with which it was given.

Peace flows out of a place of gratitude for gifts received and shared. It giggles with a small child discovering the joys of a puddle. It smiles with the fond memories of a grandparent who is watching another’s child. It holds hands and spends quiet time with the person nearing the end of this life.

Advent is about hope, peace, joy and the coming of the light of the world. May each of us remember this truth as we hear the enticements of the mall and feel the pressure to “make Christmas memorable” by doing many things and buying lots of merchandise. Advent is a time for hope, peace, joy, and sharing with Christ the wonder of being a bringer of hope, peace and joy to others.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

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Posted by on Nov 11, 2010

A Time for Gratitude and Caution

November 11 is the day Americans know as Veterans Day. It was originally called Armistice Day, the day the War to End all Wars simply stopped – brought to a close by the signing of the Armistice between the Allies of World War I and their German enemies. It was neither a treaty nor an unconditional surrender, but it did mark the total defeat of Germany and her allies in the war. The war stopped at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The peace treaty that officially ended the war was not signed until January 1920, but the fighting ended November 11, 1918.

Negotiations to end the war began in late September and continued through October and into November 1918. Even after agreement on the armistice had been reached, the armies continued to fight – each hoping to be in the best possible position should the hostilities resume. A total of 2,728 men died on the last day of the war, including one German soldier killed minutes after 11 a.m. by American soldiers who did not know the war was over. He was an officer approaching them to tell them his troops would be vacating the houses in which they had been billeted. The last American who died was killed as he was charging the German line 60 seconds before the fighting was to stop.

We look at these kinds of historical facts today and shake our heads. How arbitrary it all seems. What a waste of lives.

Yet human history is replete with tales of wars, conquests, roaming warriers, warlords, robber barons, etc. Why do they do it? Why do we do it? Do we do it ourselves, at home in our own little worlds?

I’m afraid I’d have to say that Yes, we do commit similar acts ourselves within our small circles of family and friends. We may not do it physically, but our words and actions can be ruthless and cut deeply.

When I was in high school, I was part of an experimental program in which we had a “block class” that included instruction in English and Economics/US Government. One of the portions of the class included the class becoming a city. We were all citizens of this city and had to deal with issues that cities and their citizens face. That included having elections to select our leaders. We were divided into differing socio-economic groups. Certain areas of our city were prosperous and others were not. Some of the challenges involved how to provide the services needed for the health and well-being of city residents without breaking the budget.

I ran for Mayor and won. It was the last office I expect ever to try to attain. I had no idea how difficult it could be to meet the  needs of so many different people fairly. My hat is off to those folks who are willing to struggle with these issues on local, state and national levels. It’s a thankless job, despite the prestige one gets.

A few of us from the Block were selected to participate in another “game” at a local college. In this game, we were divided into two nations sharing a common border. As fate would have it, a skirmish broke out on the border. Each team/nation was given a set of information about the skirmish – what had happened, who had fired first, how many had been injured, where the troops were currently located, etc. Some were designated as the military who were engaged in defending our borders. Others were part of the political and diplomatic teams who were supposed to find common ground and get the war ended.

I was one of the persons sent to the United Nations to try to settle the issue. We had been told that the other nation had started the war. They had moved onto our territory first and we were simply defending ourselves. So I argued that they were the agressors. We were the innocent victims. They should withdraw and pay compensation for the cost of the war, etc. To my surprise, my counterpart from the other side had exactly the same argument! As the “game” drew to a close, we were informed that both sides had been given exactly the same information. The actual facts of the case would never be known by any of us. We had all been making speeches and arguing our cases based on information that had a 50-50 chance of being untrue.

I learned something from those two games played as the Vietnam War raged outside our classroom. Nothing is as clear-cut as it seems. There is always the possibility, indeed the probability, that at least part of the information on which a course of action is to be based is incorrect. Whether those providing the incorrect information are doing so knowingly or not does not change the fact that it is incorrect. The culpability for causing harm to others, of course, depends on the degree to which one is aware that the information is not true and spreads it anyway. However, it doesn’t hurt to assume as a general rule that at least some of what I “know” is not really true! If nothing else it lends a bit of humility to the equation.

That doesn’t mean that individuals should not take stands supporting basic human rights or not call a spade a spade when governments or others in positions of power are abusing their power or harming the innocent. That’s part of the call to prophetic witness within our Judeo-Christian tradition. However, we are called to do so recognizing our own complicity in the system and knowing that there is always more to any story than at first meets the eye.

On this Veterans Day, may we be filled with a sense of gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices of those who have given their lives to ensure that life would be better for those who came after them. May we thank those who went to war and returned alive for the gift of freedoms they have protected. May we be grateful to those who serve in other ways than militarily to foster human rights and protect human dignity. May we reach out to those whom we consider to be enemies and to those who consider us to be enemies, hoping to find common ground on which we can move forward in peace. And may we respect those who dissent when those around them call for aggressive action or war, recognizing that there may be realities about which we are unaware that would lead to totally different conclusions if they were known.

Most importantly, may we be peacemakers – ever willing to listen, to seek common ground, to build a sturdy foundation for the future. As sisters and brothers sharing one earth, as human beings, we can do no less and be true to our calling as children of the Most High.

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Posted by on Sep 11, 2010

A Prayer for Peace

On this anniversary of the terroist attacks on September 11, 2001, may we join with people of faith and hope from around the world and from all faiths in praying for peace and understanding. This prayer is from a website that offers prayers for peace from many world traditions.

 

Muslim Prayer for Peace

In the name of Allah,

the beneficent, the merciful.

Praise be to the Lord of the

Universe who has created us and

made us into tribes and nations,

That we may know each other, not that

we may despise each other.

If the enemy incline towards peace, do

thou also incline towards peace, and

trust God, for the Lord is the one that

heareth and knoweth all things.

And the servants of God,

Most Gracious are those who walk on

the Earth in humility, and when we

address them, we say “PEACE.”

 

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