Mark Berry, community mission mobiliser for Church Mission Society, says something that can't be said too often
In recent days we have continued to see much pain across the world. We have witnessed terrorists attacks in Spain and natural disaster in Sierra Leone. Fresh in the memory are terror attacks on our own streets. War continues in the Middle East and tension rises in the political sphere.
As Christians prayer for peace is always on our lips. We pray for shalom.
Often the only way we have to define peace is a negative - the absence of war, noise, stress. We hope and pray for ”peace at last”. Peace talks are always about stopping violence, but peace talks aren't enough without plans for the future. The absence of war is just a starting point.
Shalom means more than peace in the way we often mean it. It means everything working the way it was made to, in harmony.
Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers." I don't think he just meant those that don't fight.
He meant those who make shalom - those that work hard to get everything and everyone working together to rebuild the world the way it is meant to be!
In Ezekiel there is a picture of shalom - the prophet talks about the lion lying down next to the lamb: the powerful living and working with the vulnerable, the strong making space for the weak.
When the first church met together in houses in Jerusalem - they would offer one another a sign of peace - not just a greeting but a promise, a commitment to each other - a shared endeavour.
So maybe when Jesus talks about being a peacemaker he means this: those who go out of their way to bring together the strong and the weak, who help the powerful hear the vulnerable, who reshape the world into a fairer, more harmonious place - for all.
So let us pray for peace and peacemakers.
Here is a selection for prayers for peace:
Compassionate God and Father of all,
we are horrified at violence in so many parts of the world.
It seems that none are safe, and some are terrified.
Hold back the hands that kill and maim;
turn around the hearts that hate.
Grant instead your strong Spirit of Peace -
peace that passes our understanding
but changes lives,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We pray for peace in our communities this day.
We commit to you all who work for peace and an end to tensions,
And those who work to uphold law and justice.
We pray for an end to fear,
For comfort and support to those who suffer.
For calm in our streets and cities,
That people may go about their lives in safety and peace.
(Both from the Church of England website)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Help us to comfort others instead of focussing on our comfort,
To love rather than always seeking to be loved.
To give more than we get.
To trust in your vision for the world not our, too often, short term view of things.