This is the sixth of a six-part series. Previous parts can be found on our website.
In Baptism and at Affirmation of Baptism (Confirmation) we make the following promises: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
The last promise may just be the most difficult. You may be willing to strive for justice and peace in our local community, you may vote for leaders who want to bring peace and justice in our state or nation, but the whole world?
We are coming off of a weekend where five people were stabbed at a Hanukkah celebration in New York. There has been a rise in attacks against the Jewish community in the past month. Two parishioners and the shooter were killed during worship at a church in Texas. These acts of violence seem to be happening more often.
An Apt Song
I’m reminded of a song that I first heard many years ago. The lyrics have been updated to be more inclusive and appear in a recent United Methodist hymnal: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me; let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God our creator, family all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony. Our promise, to strive for justice and peace in all the earth, seems daunting. But this song offers one possibility: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
As individuals, we have to take responsibility for our words and actions toward others. Peace can begin with you if you are willing to speak out when others make comments that are racist or homophobic or demeaning to those with a disability. It can begin with you if you are willing to teach your children and your grandchildren not to fear those who are different from them. Peace can begin with you when you approach others with curiosity and an open mind to truly understand their struggles and fears. Peace can begin with you are willing to take that baptismal promise seriously.
All of these promises are spoken at our baptism and affirmed when we are confirmed. How might you be changed if you tried to live into these promises daily? How might our community be changed if we tried to live into these promises daily? And how might the world be changed if all Christians tried to live out these promises in their daily life? I can’t speak for you, but I pray this, “let it begin with me.”
– Pastor Steve