Wednesday 21st September was a special day in the calendar – it marked the United Nations International Day of Peace. Established in 1981, Peace Day is commemorated globally as a way for all humanity to reflect and to commit to peace, despite differences of religion, culture and race; the day also encourages all of us, wherever we are, to facilitate and promote a culture of peace.
I was privileged to take part in an event in Girdwood Community Hub with my fellow North Belfast Clergy to mark this important day. We joined together as Moravians, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists and Catholics to make our peace pledges alongside three hundred primary school children from twelve local schools. It was a powerful reminder that when we come together, we are stronger and the cause of peace has a much greater chance of succeeding. It was, on reflection, an example of Galatians 3:28 in action, where Paul wrote: ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’.
And as we come together as Christians, the peace pledge also reminds us of our very personal obligations. Peace, after all, starts with us. As the spiritual writer Thomas Merton once said: “We are not at peace with others, because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves, because we are not at peace with God.”
Peace then, is not an ethereal concept that resides with ‘the other’. It is found within; true peace then, comes from God and we receive it when our relationship with him is fulsome, honest and evolving. As Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
With that assurance of peace in our hearts we can reach out to a troubled world with confidence. Not just on one day, but on every day. Not just in one place, but in every place. And so let us endeavour to make our small Christian community here, together with our other Brothers and Sisters across the denominations, a beacon of peace, today and every day.
Every blessing, Scott