Are We Closer to Peace Today?
Sept. 20, 2007 -- United Methodist Women has carried out a prayer campaign since the 2003 Lenten Season, the start of the Iraq War. Now, we call on the whole church to keep the faith and continue actions of prayer for peace.
It is the 5th year of the war in Iraq. The costs are in thousands of Iraqi and U.S. lives and over $500 billion. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza with ongoing conflict and suffering. Now there is rumbling about a U.S. war on Iran. We are in the middle of the Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010), a decade that the World Council of Churches has designated for church communities to work towards peace and reconciliation.
As violence continues across the globe, let us pray for an end to the current war and curb a possible war in Iran or anywhere in the world. When we pray for and stand for peace, we pray and stand against all conditions, attitudes and institutions that breed and nurture violence, war and injustice. We seek to build a culture of peace at all levels of our lives – in the way we treat each other personally, and in challenging domestic violence and racially motivated violence – in our communities, our nation and in the world.
Christ told us not to be afraid. Christ walks with us. The Holy Spirit empowers us to pray for what seems impossible – that swords be hammered into plows; guns melted into tractors. We pray that children can play rather than dodge landmines, that old men dream child's play instead of war flashbacks, that old women dream of grandchildren instead of small graves. They asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" Today he would name people in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Palestine as well as those in Somalia and South Asia.
In 2003 we prayed for peace and presented prayers on cards to the White House after the initial invasion of Iraq. In 2004 we kept our faith and continued our prayers. That summer, a prayer-for-peace postcard campaign at Regional and Conference Schools of Christian Mission yielded cards sent to the members of the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee. During the 2007 spring meeting of the Women’s Division’s board of directors in Stamford, Conn., a peace vigil called for peace in the Middle East and an end to Israeli occupation of Palestine. Today, peace is still out there waiting for us to live it. Love is out there waiting to be embodied. Christ is on the side of the road waiting for a Samaritan to heal his wounds. Continue to be a part of it. Here’s what you can do:
- Pray for peace. Post your prayers in the discussion section of the Faith Explorations Community on United Methodist Women’s Online Community, www.umwonline.org. Send written prayers to Sung-ok Lee, Women’s Division, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 1502, New York, NY, 10115.
- Reach out to families of soldiers in Iraq and veterans’ organizations to support soldiers through prayer, letters and packages, and by supporting military families’ organizations to end the war and bring troops home. Some examples are Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War.
- Advocate for increased funding for veterans’ benefits.
- Read the Women’s Division April 2007 action: “Steps Toward a Just Peace in the Middle East” for reflection and action found at www.umwonline.org.
- Hold a peace vigil in your community calling for peace in the world and an end to the war in Iraq. Send stories about your peace vigil to the Women's Division, Office of Community Action, to email@example.com.
- Write about your events for peace in your United Methodist Women conference and district newsletters.
- Monitor current legislation and contact your representatives in Congress to express views on peace.
- Participate in education of young people about misleading military recruitment drives and offer alternatives to the military.
- Participate in the 2007-2008 School of Christian Mission study on Israel and Palestine, conduct studies in your local unit or your church, and prayerfully consider how to take action.
- Use the 2006 Women’s Division Program Book, Building Peace, Piece by Piece, for worship and programs on peacemaking. To order call the Mission Resource Center: 1-800-305-9857.
- Read the Council of Bishops’ Resolution on the War on Iraq and the Council of Bishops’ study: “In Search of Security.”
- Use the National Council of Churches’ international affairs curriculum, “For the Peace of the World,” as a United Methodist Women or Sunday school study. For information go to www.ncccusa.org.
- View the American Friends Service Committee movie that tells the truth about the ongoing loss of life in Iraq. See the movie online at www.afsc.org.