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Annual Observances

Give Us This Day Our Daily Peace

By Glory E. Dharmaraj

September 21 is the International Day of Peace, a day to recall the words of Bishop Bromley Oxnam, a leader in the peace movement: “Peace like bread must be made daily.” It is a day to work for peace collectively.

 

Peace like bread must be made daily. —Bishop Bromley Oxnam

Christian mission is nothing more or less than our participation in the hospitality of God. —Amos Yong in Hospitality and the Other

An ancient Greek myth tells the story of Sisyphus, whose assignment was to roll a heavy rock to the top of a steep hill. It was more of a punishment than assignment. Sisyphus broke the laws of hospitality by killing the guests and travelers under his care. Therefore, he was condemned by the gods to roll a rock up a hill ceaselessly. The moment he reached the top of the steep hill, the rock would roll down to the bottom of the hill. He had to roll the rock uphill again.

From this story we get English phrase Sisyphean challenge—a ceaseless, pointless and meaningless task. 

Hearth and Heart Relations

Sisyphus broke the hospitality code, the relationship between host and guest. Justice fled from his kitchen table. So did mercy, kindness and peace. His heart became stone to the needs of the guests under his care. The tragic irony is that he was condemned to endlessly roll a heavy stone, all alone. 
 
September 21 is the International Day of Peace, a day to recall the words of Bishop Bromley Oxnam, a leader in the peace movement: “Peace like bread must be made daily.” It is a day to work for peace collectively.
 
African families center around hearths where women provide warmth, hospitality and cordiality. Using this African reality, Methodist mission leader Mercy Amba Oduyoye promotes the concept of “Hearthhold of God,” where basic hospitality is extended to the “other” in spite of differences in race, culture, religion and nationality.
 
Each of us is a recipient of God’s daily hospitality. The church itself is enjoined to be the household of God (Ephesians 2:19), extending its hospitality to everyone. The church is a sign, a witness to the world for modeling a radical hospitality as part of reconciliation and peacemaking activities.
 

One-Minute Prayer for Peace Worldwide

Can we join our hearts to pray for peace, at least for a minute, on September 21 with our brothers and sisters around the world?
 
In 1944, more than a million signatures were collected in order to start a new organization called the United Nations. Methodist women collected part of these one million signatures.
 
Today we call on you to offer your prayers and be part of the Million Minute Prayer for world peace.
 
Peace is more than mere absence of war. Peace is the flourishing of human beings, the fullness of humanity for everyone and fullness of life for all including the least of these.
 
  • Peace is eradication of poverty in a greedy world.
  • Peace is literacy for girls and boys.
  • Peace is gender equality and empowerment of women.
  • Peace is reduction of child mortality, creating a world that is a treat for children.
  • Peace is improvement of maternal health and wellness.
  • Peace is fighting against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
  • Peace is flourishing of the earth and fight against ecological bankruptcy.
  • Peace is developing relationships of mutuality around the world for the sake of life.
These issues are the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, which I have put within the framework of peace. 
 

Things That Make for Peace

The concept of shalom that the Bible talks about starts with peace with God and flows into the human community of God where we all live.
 
Imagine this big, wide world as a hearth or a vast kitchen table where God is the host. Around this table sit harmony, wholeness, wellness, justice, peace, reconciliation and well-being. God presides over this table, welcoming us to sit and experience this state of shalom. God even calls us to be co-workers to extend this table to build wholesome relationships across race, culture, ethnicity, class, gender and all that divides us.
 
Shalom is the God-intended vision for families and communities to rise above narrow loyalties to grow into God’s shalom-loyalty. Let us align our hearts and hearths to God’s heart and hearth, the Reign of God.
 
Let us take a minute today and all the days of our lives to pray for peace and be vigilant enough to address all of the forces that seek to kill fullness of life for our neighbors here and far.
 
We are not Sisyphus. Are we?
 
I suspect there is a little Sisyphus in all of us, that within us is complicity with anti-shalom forces and inhospitality to guest and stranger. Charles Villa-Vicencio of the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation in South Africa once said, “There is a little perpetrator in each of us.”
 
I believe that God’s salvation is both for the perpetrator and victim.
 
Water-washed and Spirit-blessed, we dare to renew ourselves in truth and be ambassadors of peace. We are a Resurrection people who bear witness to the empty tomb of Jesus and the rolled-away stone. We are not assigned to roll the stone up the hill—Christ has already rolled the stone away for us. Our call is to engage in a participatory journey with God, as children of God and caring neighbors, into a new life, a new humanity, a new earth and a new heaven. 
 
It is a communal journey with children of God, as fellow journeyers, embodying the twinning ministry of bread-breaking and peacemaking, carrying out the twinfold aim of making this world a people-friendly household and, therefore, a God-friendly dwelling place.
 

Prayer

God of shalom, give us this day our daily peace. May we act under your Holy Spirit to repent of our participation in things that run against your will. Turn us toward you and expand our understandings of who our neighbor is so that we may continue to experience peace and work hard to build a peaceable kin-dom with you. Let there be peace, and let it begin with me. We pray this in the name of the One who is our Peace, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
 
Post your peace prayers in United Methodist Women Online group Faith Explorations.
 
Visit the Prayer Wall of Odyssey Networks  to watch an interview with Glory Dharmaraj on prayer for peace.
 
Glory E. Dharmaraj, Ph.D., is Director of Spiritual Formation and Mission Theology for the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries. 
Last Updated: 09/20/2010
 
 

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