Blessed are the peace-makers
When peace is under threat or shattered, it needs action to restore it.
Last Friday, I and many others joined a Vigil for Peace outside the Metropolitan Cathedral. Organised jointly by Liverpool’s two Cathedrals, it was an opportunity for people of faith and no faith to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Above us, as the darkness descended, the front façade of the Met was illuminated in blue and yellow, the national colours of Ukraine. We were but one of many such vigils and acts of solidarity that have gone on throughout this region, our nation and across the world. Rightly, we prayed for peace in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. And when the Bible talks about ‘peace’ it has in mind the Jewish shalom, the richness of which is hard to translate into English. But it carries the sense of well-being and healing, as well as the absence of noise, war or violent behaviour. As we stood there, I felt, probably as we all do, a great sense of helplessness and impotence about the fact that we couldn’t do more to stop the carnage in Ukraine, and other war-torn parts of our world.
I was also reminded of Jesus’ famous saying, “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Significantly, he didn’t say, “Blessed are the peace-lovers”. In other words, when peace is threatened or shattered then effort is needed to regain and re-make peace. And, yes, in my book, when peace and well-being are threatened by military force, then responding with military force to protect yourself is an uncomfortable but real option. A prayer that we’ve found ourselves using quite freqently in the Cathedral is the famous “Make me a channel of your peace” – attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Being a channel for God’s peace and being someone who helps to make peace are calls to action. Our Christian faith will righly express itself in worship and prayer, but then true faith rouses us to act. The apostle James, in his letter, shows us an example of where the rubber hits the road: “What good is it, brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm and eat your fill, yet does not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?’” (James 2:14-16).
So I am asking myself what can I do in this situation – and others? Let’s remember that, very sadly, Ukraine is not the only country in our world that has been devastated by an oppressing force waging war on its people. That is a conversation between us and our consciences. There are numbers of channels open for offering practical help.
You may wish to give financially to the appeal for Ukraine. That way, those who are closer to the real needs on the ground can be enabled to target aid. As someone poignantly said, collections of clothes and other essentials are great but they rarely include bullet-proof vests! If so, then the DEC appeal is a good way of doing that:
If you wish to give items to be sent across to Ukraine, and to the millions of refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries, especially Poland, then it’s probably best to do a search on your computer to see where it is most appropriate to offer items, and find out what items they are looking for.
Finally, let us not stop praying, for that is powerful in the courts of heaven. I believe that God expects us to pray for our enemies too – the Bible teaches that. Are we praying that the heart of Vladmir Putin will be turned to repent of his murderous actions and call off the invasion? Are we praying for a Jonah-like character or characters to be empowered and have the courage to be able to speak directly to him? Are we praying for the many Russians who seem to be deeply opposed to what a few of their leaders are doing and proclaiming on their behalf?
Blessed are those who make peace, says Jesus. Please, Lord, bring more blessing and more peace. And quickly!
With good wishes