The prevailing sentiment among many in our nation these days is that this is a scary time in our world. And so the most common reaction is to defend ourselves – build a wall along the entire Mexican border, ban nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S., suspend the refugee admission program. While I can understand such sentiments and reactions, my faith in Jesus Christ calls me to consider an alternative way – a way of faith, not fear – to be not afraid, to love my neighbor, to welcome the stranger who might be Christ himself (Mt. 25:35).
The current debate over immigration and security has a long history, a history in which the United Church of Christ has repeatedly encouraged its members and the citizens of our country to actively pursue the “things that make for peace.” In the pronouncement, “Affirming the United Church of Christ as a Just Peace Church,” passed by the General Synod in 1985, the UCC rejects “the labeling of others as enemies and the creation of institutions which perpetuate enemy relations.” Neither terrorists nor those responding to terrorism can afford to demonize and dehumanize persons or nations.
Our UCC General Minister and President, Rev. John Dorhauer, has written an exemplary commentary about not dehumanizing persons called “Remember the people behind the policies.” It can be found at: www.ucc.org/commentary_remember_the_people_behind_the_policies_01302017.
If you are interested in active peacemaking, I would also recommend an upcoming local event hosted by Klein ISD called “Paint the Community with Peace Week,” Feb. 13-17, 2017. Schools across the district, business partners, and community organizations are invited to create a poster about peace to display at Klein Memorial Stadium on Thursday, Feb. 16, beginning at 3 p.m. The posters will be placed together to create a community poster quilt.
The Klein ISD’s Unite for Understanding Council, which is sponsoring the event, shares the following thought in the invitation: “We live, work, and play together. Let’s show unity in our diversity by sharing peace, love, and understanding as we Paint the Community with Peace.”
Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed, indeed.