By Shelley West, member of the 2014 Youth Peace Travel Team.
“While our understanding of peace is rooted in scripture and Jesus’ teachings, we think it has many different manifestations in our world today that are worth exploring. Peace is about more than not going off to war or not fighting with your siblings!”
This is a phrase that frequented my introduction of the Youth Peace Travel Team and our work when we faced campers for the first time on jittery Sunday evenings. While our goal was to introduce the five specific perspectives of peace that we would be teaching throughout the week, it was a genuine reminder to ourselves of the variety of unexpected ways that peace showed its face to us all summer long.
Peace was found in the group’s acceptance of my exceptionally poor performance during a camp-wide kickball game at Camp Colorado. Peace was found in the inclusive and enthusiastic clamor surrounding our “Arm Wrestling for Peace” booth at National Youth Conference’s Brethren Block Party. Peace was found as our team struggled up the metaphorical mountain together, but made it to the top and gazed out at the spectacular view.
Peace is found in whatever moment you decide to seek and pursue it. Jesus’ example of peace was radical, but versatile and all-embracing. We, too, are called to this job of uninhibited love-spreading. In each encounter with our siblings in Christ, we have a grand opportunity to look into their eyes, listen to their musings, and verbally affirm that our hearts are open to the sharing of this human experience. Whether with strangers in the neighborhood or parents we’ve never truly gotten to know, this interaction brings a smile to our God’s face and a spark of hope to those who we have stepped outside of our comfort zones to engage.
Let us be active and willing in our approaches to peacemaking—at camp, at home, and around the world. In remembering our global brothers and sisters through fervent prayer, may we be simultaneously empowered to search for peace in our daily lives. May our hearts burn ablaze with a passion to search, to work, to love. Amen.
September 21 is International Day of Peace. It is also the suggested date for the Mission Offering—an opportunity for congregations to support Church of the Brethren partnerships that maintain a peaceful presence all over the world. Visit brethren.org/missionoffering to find out more, and brethren.org/give to support all of these ministries today.