The Things That Make For Peace

As [Jesus} came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Luke 19:41-44 NRSV

In the summer of 2016 I took a small retreat to a monastery I like to visit in the Atlanta area; that weekend I worshipped at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. That week ended up being the week that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were murdered and then 5 Dallas police officers were also killed.  I remember the grief, pain and tension being palpable that week.

So that weekend I went to worship in that holy space. Worship in its lament and joy was a form of resistance. 

As we worship God we resist the things that we have been told to be true: violence, division, greed, corruption — and proclaim to be true the things of the kingdom of God: peace, reconciliation, joy, justice.

That Sunday one of the pastors said something that has remained with me. As she introduced a song that she was about to sing titled ‘Calvary’ she reflected on a question that was asked of a seminary professor of hers once in school: “Why did calvary happen?” She shared that the professor’s answer to the question was that Calvary happens because we don’t know what to do with God’s image in the world.

The depth of that statement still shakes me.  Years later, it begs me to ask the question where I’m missing God’s image in the world still.

We find ourselves still in the midst of a world where if we turn on our computers or TVs we see that we continue to kill one another. We kill one another only with guns, but with laws, and words, and the actions that come from FEAR and an unwillingness to LISTEN to one another and to HEAR one another and to KNOW one another. It comes from our inability to know the things that make for peace.

When we continue to recognize each other’s pain, we continue to kill the image of God.  For we are told in Scripture that every human person, every human person is created in the IMAGE OF GOD.  And so every life we extinguish is killing God’s very image in our world

Because we don’t know what to do with God’s image in our world, we kill it — we kill him, we kill her. And we don’t even notice. And when we find no justice in that killing, the pain is deepened. Where there is no justice, there is no peace. Today we again find no justice and no peace, but we must say her name, as we continue to resist the things that make for war and fight for the things that make for peace. Breonna Taylor.