Sunday, August 4, 2013

Let There Be Peace on Earth (Strength in Hymn)

"Let There Be Peace on Earth"
by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

We sang this beautiful song at my mother’s memorial service last weekend.  My sister Barb chose it, remembering that my mother had sung it often when we were children.  We decided to recruit whomever would sing it with us, even at the last minute, and ended up with eight of us.

I appreciate the sentiment of this song for its encouragement for each of us to take the initiative to work for peace in our own spheres of influence, instead of waiting for someone else “out there” to take the first step.

At the same time, I remember that true peace begins with God, and that in a world which often rejects him and chooses the way of sin, we will never see complete “peace on earth” or “perfect harmony.”  As a Christian, I am looking forward to a full and lasting peace in Heaven.  But that does not exempt me from working toward peace and justice here. You’ve heard the saying, “He was so heavenly minded that he was no earthly good.”  We should be both.  Christians should not ignore social justice issues.  Christians should work for peace.  We serve a God of peace and justice.  We pray as Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Working for peace with people does not mean that we will always agree with others or accept what they do.  Sometimes, working for peace means limiting our exposure to people who have a pattern of hurting others.   It means being like Jesus and having the courage to confront and curtail those whose actions run contrary to the cause of peace and justice, even in churches and other Christian organizations.  Here is a tiny bit of what the Bible has to say about peacemaking.

Love must be sincere. 
Hate what is evil; 
cling to what is good. 
Be devoted to one another in love. 
Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, 
but keep your spiritual fervor, 
serving the Lord. 
Be joyful in hope, 
patient in affliction, 
faithful in prayer. 
Share with the Lord’s people 
who are in need. 
Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; 
bless and do not curse. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice; 
mourn with those who mourn. 
Live in harmony with one another. 
Do not be proud, 
but be willing to associate 
with people of low position. 
Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. 
Be careful to do what is right 
in the eyes of everyone. 
If it is possible, 
as far as it depends on you, 
live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, 
but leave room for God’s wrath, 
for it is written: 
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” 
says the Lord. On the contrary: 
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; 
if he is thirsty, 
give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap 
burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, 
but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

Virginia Knowles

P.S. #1: This post is part of my Strength in Hymn series.  My most recent entry is also from the memorial service: "Be Thou My Vision" and includes a video of my daughters singing it.  Two other hymns from the service appeared in the series before her death: "In the Garden" and a slightly different version of "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah." 

P.S. #2: The history behind the song: "Let There Be Peace on Earth"

P.S. #3: A helpful article I found while trying to look up the above Scripture: Is Reconciliation the True Test of Forgiveness?

P.S. #4: The photos above were all taken with my iPod in my mother's garden shortly before we left for home.  The floral knob on the broken down garden gate is a visual metaphor or making beauty in a place of imperfection.  

P.S. #5: The stunning photo below, also from my mother's garden, is by my daughter Joanna Knowles of By Jo Photography.  The day after the memorial service, she flew off to Australia for a semester, so stay tuned for some more awesome photos.

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