Faith at Work LXXXV

August 2011

Our seventh beatitude in this series of nine reads: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.” [Matthew 5:9]. It seems to me that one important thing to notice in this beatitude is the form of the noun “peacemakers”. They are not peace protestors or peace activists operating in passive, and sometimes confrontational, ways but people who seek to bring peace to a situation by quietly bringing opposite sides together and improving understanding.

The Peace and Reconciliation Group in Northern Ireland, formed in 1976, served just that purpose bringing those separated by religious or cultural differences into dialogue. Their work continues today as new situations unfold at home and further afield in Africa and the Middle East. David Cameron has said recently that members of the Taliban could have a role in the future government of Afghanistan, just as ex-militants now have in Northern Ireland.

The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) serves as a Quaker presence at the United Nations, both in New York and in Geneva, facilitating dialogue and working on specific issues in a manner that is unique in the UN community. QUNO advocacy is carried out in a number of ways, particularly by facilitating informal, open negotiating processes in which all participate on an equal footing. All these examples illustrate the need to get to know the other and to talk around the table. As Churchill was reported to have said: “to jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.”

Another important thing to notice in the beatitude is the absence of the article before children – there is no exclusivity here, we can all belong to God’s kingdom provided only that we seek peace. Doing that actively also brings with it the values of respect and justice – people who are suppressed, sidelined or marginalized can’t always make trouble, but there is no peace either in that unfair, lop-sided situation. Conflict can be maintained in mental, social and economic ways just as much as in physical ways.

It will be good to stay at the Abbey on Iona again later this year and to reconnect with all that the Iona Community seek to do – I remember there being a ten-minute reflection in the afternoons for day visitors to the Abbey focussing on justice and peace. Here is a prayer from that tradition that we might like to use ourselves whenever we come to a place that gives us encouragement:

Loving God,
you have led us to this place,
not to shield us from heartache
and the pain of human life,
but to heal us and inspire us,
to gently redirect us,
till we see the world as you do
and love it with your love.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2011-07-06

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