Rector's Rhetoric - May 2014 - Making Peace in a Violent World
Making Peace in a Violent World
Just before Holy Week, Chris Kenney, Ruth Dickinson, and I attended the diocesan conference, “Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace,” held in Midwest City. If my memory is right, the day that we began the conference a high school student in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, stabbed twenty-two young people in a savage rampage that none of us can really comprehend. Needless to say, it was a timely gathering. The conference began with a keynote from the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, and later on, a morning reflection from The Rev. Kathleen Adams-Shepherd, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, Connecticut. I attended two workshops, The Contemplative Life and Non-Violence, led by Br. James Michael Dowd from Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York, and Passing the Peace to a New Generation, led by The Rev. Dr. Chuck Jackson, a native Oklahoman. As many of you will remember, we used to have a small Benedictine study group at the church a few years back. Essentially, it was a prayerful study of the contemplative life based on the Rule of St. Benedict. It was a wonderful group, but after about four years it seemed to have run it course. As Brother James explained how important his monastery’s work as peacemakers had become, it occurred to me that perhaps we had been a little too hasty in disbanding, or maybe we’d just never thought about the end re-sult of prayer as being peace-making in a violent world, but it’s clear to me now that we need a second incarnation of that ministry, especially as it pertains to the change we seek to make in stemming violence. There needs to be a contemplative option in every parish.
Chuck Jackson’s workshop had to do with the discovery of a new paradigm for parenting, and I was excited to see in his presentation a new model emerging that brought the strengths of two previous generations of parents together. I know that parenting courses are nothing new, but a good and effective one just might be a significant part of the answer.
Chuck used a couple of statements attributed to Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and “A rose does not need to preach, it simply spreads its fragrance.” We know that there will be no broad sweeping changes in the world as it pertains to violence, but here is where we must begin: In our own parish, our own communities, our own families, committed to living out our Baptismal Covenant, as those who strive for justice and peace among all people.
The question for now is, “where do we go from here?” I’m excited to have two pieces of the puzzle, but frustrated because there was so much more to this conference than any of us had time to experience. In the meantime, I’ll be preparing for a new contemplative prayer ministry this summer and searching the internet and making calls about community parenting classes that make a difference. In the meantime, pray for this continued vision of what we have the resources and the grace to accomplish. Pray that we might all be ministers of a Gospel of Peace.