Peace Circles

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By Jason Boone

What are your hopes for peace in 2017? Are they for a specific issue, country or group of people? Most of us have certain “hot buttons” that drive us to do more and work harder. I have ideas on what peace topics perhaps should take priority over others and I’m sure you do as well.

But after a tumultuous 2016, I believe the most important word for peacemakers is from Luke chapter 10: ”Jesus told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

The need for reconciliation at home and abroad is urgent and growing. Now more than ever, those of us who believe that following Jesus means working for peace and justice must engage the world around us. We must walk boldly into the places of pain, suffering, poverty and violence with the words of peace on our lips and the tools of peace at the ready.

The challenges ahead require that peacemakers take initiative in doing the work of the kingdom. As our nation becomes more polarized, we must be the ones who build bridges of reconciliation. As the scourges of poverty, addiction, homelessness manifest in our communities, both urban and rural, we must engage in sacrificial ways, entering into creative partnerships and bringing different ways of being into difficult circumstances. As our world becomes more violent, we must witness to an alternative kingdom.

Jesus is at the center of this great work and the church continues as a unique, irreplaceable vehicle for it. I’m committed in 2017 to the Peace and Justice Support Network providing tools for encouraging every church in Mennonite Church USA to embrace its calling as an active, engaged peace church.

One new tool we are introducing this year are Peace Circles. Peace Circles are a way for churches to support and encourage active peacemaking. Centered on Scripture, supported by community, Peace Circles help us become involved in concrete ways in peacemaking. Read more about Peace Circles at www.pjsn.org and consider taking our free online training to learn how to operate a peace circle at your church.

No one knows what the future holds in these uncertain times, but we can be certain that God’s mission of reconciliation is never defeated, never abandoned, never stalled. More important for that mission than who controls the levers of power is every follower of Jesus embracing our role as agents of reconciliation—more workers for a peaceful harvest.

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One response to “Peace Circles

  1. Jason, in the midst of an urgent, nation wide movement in solidarity with Muslims and refugees and immigrants and standing against very real and present repression, the vagueness of your rhetoric in this article is astounding. It’s completely unclear to me what the goal of this piece is aside from offering oft-repeated platitudes on peacefulness and dialogue.

    This article make the recent statement from Lyft ( https://blog.lyft.com/posts/defending-our-values ) look radical in comparison. What we need right now is leadership for our church to stand clearly for justice with the oppressed in the way of Jesus. God help us when a corporate PR release is more clear in in standing with the marginalized.

    I am reminded of what was said by Mennonite leaders gathered in September 14, 1963 just a few weeks after the March on Washington, at the height of the struggle for voting rights and and end to segregation. Here’s how Tobin Miller Sherer describes what they called for in an article for MQR a few years ago ( http://rossbender.org/harding.pdf )

    “Their comments encouraged dialogue, love, educational initiatives, interracial church fellowship, church-based evangelism, and interracial visitor and pulpit exchanges. Although the men spoke with passion and fluency akin to Harding’s own, none of them advocated involvement in civil rights demonstrations.”

    In contrast, Miller Sherer reports, “[Vincent] Harding called for immediate, concrete political action.”

    Is the Mennonite Peace and Justice Network still stuck being what Vincent Harding prophetically called the “rear light” for the world?

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