Celebrating Peace Day as part of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

by Bryan Hanger last modified 21 September 2016 09:46 AM

21 September 2016

When we began planning for this year’s Peace Day, I started to think about the many different visions of peace in the Bible and from the Church of the Brethren tradition. Peace Day has been a ministry of On Earth Peace since 2007 and an international event since the UN resolution in 1981. But this year we really wanted to connect our visions and dreams of peace with what we hoped for the church and the world.

There was so much pain happening with war in Syria, terror against our Nigerian sister church, and racist violence perpetrated against Black Americans. It felt overwhelming, but as a people committed to the Gospel of Peace, we could not simply become apathetic.

This led me to ask, “How am I called to build peace?” I can’t end the Syrian war, but I can contribute something to the building of God’s peaceable kingdom.

My contribution will make a difference and would be building upon the foundation laid by Jesus and our foremothers of faith. This became the theme for our 2016 campaign.

God's call to build peace and create just communities has always been key to our story of faith. Abraham was called in his old age to leave home and become the father of many nations, Moses was called to lead his people out of slavery and into freedom, Esther was called to redeem her people from oppression, Mary was called to bear and raise the Redeemer of the world, and Jesus himself was called to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.

Like our spiritual forebears, we are all called to different places and to different ministries to do God's work and to bring God's peace and justice to the world. We are all part of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace that the World Council of Churches has invited us on -- and Peace Day is part and parcel of this same vision.

Both Peace Day and the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace are about bringing people together to learn from one another, walk together, and dream about a common future where God’s peace and justice shape the world.

So far, 75 different communities have shared their unique 2016 Peace Day plans with us. Most are Church of the Brethren congregations here in the United States, but we also are connected to groups in Cameroon, Nigeria, India, Mexico, Brazil, Northern Ireland, and Canada. Our peace pilgrimage is truly interconnected and worldwide.

Many events are worship services focused on issues of peace and justice, but creativity abounds. One group is having a meditation for racial peace on a college campus, another congregation is deconstructing weapons and re-forming the raw materials into gardening tools, while others are having community interfaith events seeking to bring together those who have been divided historically.

Peace Day itself is not the culmination. We hope that Peace Day inspires people to reflect deeply on the question “How am I called to build peace?” and to seek out concrete ways to build upon Peace Day, step out in faith, and join the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.

Peace is not a destination, but a lifelong pilgrimage, where we journey together towards a future where God’s peace and justice shape the world.

Disclaimer

The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

More information.