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Sunday, 20 December 2009

Peace on Earth? A Christmas reflection

Gene Stoltzfus, a founder of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, reflected this week on"Peace, War Nobel Prizes and Justice" on the acceptance speech by Barak Obama of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. The full speech is available at: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/10850.

A couple of paragraphs near the near of the speech I thought were a challenging and helpful basis for reflection as run up to the season of Christmas in which a key element of the announcement of the messiah relates to the call  "Peace on earth".
For many peace people, church members and third world nations, Obama’s speeches on Afghanistan and his acceptance of the Nobel prize, despite their eloquence, were a disappointment. This was the moment when I realised that my long term hope for ending the practice of war, in say a century, will require harder, more focused work than ever. I believe I can use this experience as a time to bound forward. The speeches remind me that the Lamb of God, with even wider reach in the stretch for justice, can overcome the god of empire that imposes chaos and destruction under the guise of democratic order.

The speeches remind us that fundamentalist preachers or pundits are tethered together with the liberal establishment on the question of war. Both stumble through various versions of just war ethics as the Predator drones drag us into a scary future. Above all, the speeches remind us of the very limited options that are available to an imperial President in matters of peace and war. This is the moment to pull up our pants, turn off the TV, awaken our imaginations, listen to God’s spirit of compassion for all human kind, and get on with our work.

Some of us will be called to unexpected sacrifice of time, career, and life itself. The goal of a world without war is worth all of the sacrifice of a great army of unarmed soldiers. This dream of a nonviolent world may be the only realistic vision now, despite the fact that our leaders doff their hats to just war. The renewal of our spirit will come one step at a time in fresh and even larger ways as our spirits are awakened to the politics of renewal and hope, a politics, like Jesus himself, that is never dependent upon a president who is often powerless to transform an imperial culture that devours good policies and strong words.

The universality of this season’s mantra, “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards People” is a good place to start and it gets the best angels involved. If the mantra is going to bring down the institution of war, we had better be prepared with discipline and armfuls of imagination infused with love. When we are called idealists, we do well to give the realist answer, all of creation is groaning for something better. That is where we will put our energy.

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