Make me a channel of your peace

By

31 Dec 2022

A couple of examples from popular culture provide clues on where and how to find peace.

Poets have written about it. Priests have preached about it. Musicians have sung about it. Artists have drawn it. Scientists have researched it. Politicians have spoken about it. Every Miss Universe contestant wants ‘World Peace’. Where is peace? How do we find peace? Two pieces from popular culture might give us a clue.

The hit musical Come From Away tells of an event following the atrocities of 11 September 2001. It shares the incredible real-life story of the 7000 air passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Canada in the wake of 9/11, and the small Newfoundland community that invited these ‘come from aways’ into their lives.

The people in the little-known community show hospitality, friendship and peace. Midpoint in the story, we hear the well-known song ‘Make me a channel of your peace’. The anonymous text is normally called the Prayer of St Francis and it is a widely known Christian prayer for peace.

PRAYERS FOLLOW A THEME
In Come From Away many passengers of different religions go to the local church and library, the closest quiet building in the area, to pray in the wake of the tragedy of the planes flying into the twin towers. Although each person is speaking a different language – Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi and English – their prayers all follow the same theme. Even though the passengers pray in different ways, they are all united through their faith and comfort it brings them and others. The song also harkens strongly to one of the musical’s main themes – welcome no matter who you are.

Indeed, peace is the essence of all religions. The song extols the simple virtues of peace, love and kindness to all.

Another popular song, ‘The Blessing’ by Kari Jobe, rose through the Christian pop charts just as the global pandemic was being realised around the world. It is based on the priestly blessing in the Book of Numbers (6:24-26). The prayer given to Moses to speak over his son Aaron and his people.

In a season of uncertainty and fear, as the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, this blessing brought them comfort and peace. Can you imagine God blessing us with this prayer?

Lord bless you, and keep you,
May His face shine on you,
and be gracious to you.
The Lord turn his face toward you,
And give you peace.

GOD BLESSES US
Released in March 2020, the song by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes & Elevation music, reminds us that God does indeed bless us. It’s no wonder that it resonates with us today as we continue to navigate the global pandemic, political divisions, racial injustice and ongoing tensions in our world.

Pope Francis reminds us that peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit. In his 55th World Day of Peace message this year, he reminded us that peace is a gift from God that requires human action.

He asks us to be people of peace in prayer and deed. Peace can reflect our relationship with God, ourselves and others.

All over the world there are monuments of peace: Japanese Peace Bell (United Nations NYC), Fountain of Time (Chicago), Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Japan), Imagine Peace Tower (Iceland) just to name a few. Stark reminders that peace is possible.

WHOLENESS OF PEACE
So peace can be more than just an absence of war. It is a state of mind, a virtue.

How many times is the word peace used in the Old and New Testaments? Biblical scholars do not agree on just one number, so let’s say it’s used more than 300 times. Biblical peace means completeness or wholeness, it points to the presence of something else. Peace is the fruit of a life that trusts Jesus and is dependent on the Holy Spirit. Apart from God, we cannot conjure up peace on our own. We are co-creators of peace.

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord.
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

– Make Me a Channel of Your Peace’ (1967) by Sebastian Temple

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