September is upon us, and it’s a busy month for people everywhere. Children are returning for school, farmers in the northern hemisphere are beginning their harvest and farmers in the south are readying their fields and planting their crops. The work never ends, but in September it often feels like it is more focused. I’ve been working hard also – for the first week in September I spent time working with the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, reflecting and deliberating on the present and future work of the council, reviewing its progress and celebrating its achievements.
Despite the hectic schedule and nonstop movement of this month, we must remember to pause and consider the world around us. It’s easy for us to lose sight of the world surrounding us in the bustle of work and responsibility. It’s easy to not consider the beauty of the autumn in the north, or the world awakening in the south, and it’s certainly easy to lose sight of the world amidst the violence and chaos that is currently enveloping our brothers and sisters in Syria.
We are greeted daily with news footage and reports of attacks in Syria, violence in Afghanistan, shootings in the United States, the earthquake in Costa Rica, the Lonmin Mine Strike and killings in South Africa and the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These images – the dead and the refugees, the unbelievable violence and the eerie stillness of the aftermath – are enough to make even the most idealistic person feel as though the arc of humanity is sloping downward.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We in the Methodist and Wesleyan family have the ability to bring good news to the world. Just last year, the World Council of Churches drafted an inspiring document entitled “An Ecumenical Call for Just Peace”. The purpose of this document was to call for a greater movement towards peace and reconciliation throughout the world and a commitment to the journey towards understanding. Christ is the embodiment of peace in the world, and through Him we know the way towards peace.
A movement towards Just Peace is an invitation to people of all worldviews and religious traditions to consider the goal and to share their journeys. Just Peace invites all of us to testify with our lives, to pursue peace we must prevent and eliminate personal, structural and media violence, including violence against people because of race, caste, gender, sexual orientation, culture or religion.
To commit to a Just Peace is to trust that, as Luke said “guide our feet into the way of peace”, and it is possible. This month, on September 21, the United Nations has commemorates International Day of Peace. My friends, this doesn’t have to be only one day to commemorate peace. I urge all of us to commit ourselves to the cause of Just Peace.
The arc of humanity is not sloping downwards. Instead, our best days are ahead of us. Each of us can make a difference and better not only ourselves, but this chaotic world. Good news can come our way, and it will come in the message of peace. We must unequivocally proclaim that the messianic age will begin when men and women are working together as one family to bring about fundamental changes in society to promote peace and justice — those are signs of the Kingdom, and that Kingdom is within our grasp.
Yours in Christian love and service,
Ivan M. Abrahams