On September 21st, people of faith from around the world will take a moment from their daily lives and offer up prayers for peace. “International Day of Peace” and “International Day of Prayer for Peace” are marked by the United Nations and by the World Council of Churches respectively each year. In the U.S., the United Church of Christ is partnering with the World Council of Churches, On Earth Peace, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation to encourage individuals and congregations to pray for peace under the theme “Praying for Ceasefire.”
Can you imagine? Justice and Witness Ministries has long used the theme, “Imagine, Another World Is Possible.” It reminds us of the type of world we are working for: a world in which systemic injustice, racism, sexism, poverty, and environmental degradation are things of the past. It envisions a world in which everyone has quality education, housing, and health care. Security would be defined not by maximum security prisons or pentagon budgets, but by the strength of our community. It points us to imagine God’s Shalom, a ‘Just Peace,’ a Ceasefire. In today’s world, hope for a ceasefire seems audacious, even impossible. With our troops now engaged in Afghanistan for over a decade, the drumbeat to war with Iran ever-increasing, civil war in Syria raging, and gun violence shaking our consciousness from Aurora, CO to New York City, a ceasefire is hard to imagine.
Unfortunately, as adults our imagination is often times limited by our own experience, our own cynicism. As a parent, I often wish I still had the imagination of my young son. One of my son’s favorite books is Richard Scarry’s “Busytown”. As many parents know, the world of Richard Scarry is truly “another world”. It is full of talking animals and fantastical vehicles such as a pickle car, a hot dog car, and a cheese block car (driven by mice). There is also a page that is full of army vehicles and tanks. Although he usually wants to skip this page, recently my son’s gaze focused on these military vehicles with a quizzical look. “What is this?” he asked, as he pointed to the tip of a tank cannon. My heart sank as I tried to explain in simple terms complex concepts as violence and the military. I could tell that for him, a car made out of cheese is easier to imagine than a tank designed to hurt others. I wish that I could say the same.
It takes imagination, but imagining “ceasefire,” a world without violence, is a hope and a vision worth working for, dreaming for, and praying for. Impossible? Maybe. But, if our children see a world without war and find tanks harder to imagine than cars made out of cheese, maybe it’s time for us to stretch our imaginations. “Unless you change and become like children…” (Matthew 18:3)
This September 21st, join thousands of people around the world in stretching our collective imagination. Offer a prayer for peace, a prayer for ceasefire in our homes, our communities, and our world…
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Tweet for peace: #peaceday
The United Church of Christ has 5,194 churches throughout the United States. Rooted in the Christian traditions of congregational governance and covenantal relationships, each UCC setting speaks only for itself and not on behalf of every UCC congregation. UCC members and churches are free to differ on important social issues, even as the UCC remains principally committed to unity in the midst of our diversity.