"If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." - Romans 12:18
In 1984, I went to Nicaragua with a group of musicians. There was a war going on and the infrastructure was in bad shape. Transportation was dicey, and on our second day we were not surprised as we awaited the late arrival of a couple of pickup trucks to take us to our gig. I assumed the gig was off by the time the trucks showed up and we were told to load up. When we arrived at the site well over an hour after start time, I was dubious that anyone would still be hanging around to see us play.
But to my great surprise, the amphitheater was full, and as we stepped out of the trucks, we were greeted by thunderous applause which continued during the entire time it took to unload, set up our equipment, tune up and ready ourselves to play. Now, it's not like we were the Beatles; we were complete unknowns, a blank slate save for one fact: While our government was funding and training rebels attempting to overthrow their popular government, we chose to come here on a mission of peace.
How easy it would to have been to hate us, citizens of a country whose taxes paid for the bullets which rained down on the loved ones of those who now stood and applauded us, even before we played a note. I remember well the young soldier who engaged me in conversation saying, "When you go home, tell the people there that we want peace." Yes, love is stronger than hate.
God of all people, help us to know that love is always the better, though harder way. Forgive us for our lack of imagination and creativity. Forgive us for deluding ourselves into thinking that violence is ever an acceptable response to violence. Amen.
Willie Sordillo is Administrator of the Pastoral Excellence Network and Music Director of Jazz Worship at Old South Church in Boston.