Peace Within, Peace Without

Last night at our Vestry meeting, we began by discussing Micah 4:1-5.  This includes the famous lines, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares” and “nation shall not make war against nation.”  The question that guided our discussion was this: Do you feel more peaceful or less peaceful in the ten years since the September 11 attacks?

Now we all know that one of God’s little tools is irony.  And as I reflected on the last ten years, I discovered a streak of irony running through my life of faith.  In the ten years since that day of ill memory, I have tried to be a pacifist.  Notice I said tried.  Being committed to non-violence is difficult.  This commitment puts me at odds with the world around me and, at some points, with my own reasoning.

sure, but what kind?

It’s ironic then, that since committing myself to peace (in the grand sense), I have lost a good deal of peace (in the inner, tranquil, sense).  I can only attribute this to the Holy Spirit because only God would find a way to spin that word, peace, in a way that makes me indignant when I see violence thereby making me less at peace with myself.  Bizarre, right?

For me, it all boils down to this: what is this peace I am talking about it?  That word, “peace,” is all too often scandalized, much like the word “love.”  When I speak of peace, I do not mean pax.  That word is the word the Romans use to describe their empire when it was without uprisings or rebellions.  But notice, there was only peace/pax because the Roman military brutally squashed any confrontations.  That is no peace, that is simply a stage in many cycles of violence.

The peace that I pray for, both within and without, is shalom.  This is the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding.”  This is the hope, nay the trust, that God will reign on earth as it is in heaven. 

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