My Peace I Give To You
Oh Lord, make me a channel of your peace. May these words inspire peace in the hearts of those gathered here. May we be a blessing to the world around us as you transform our lives. Where these words and our actions go astray, I pray that no harm would be done.
At the Thanksgiving Interfaith Service a couple of weeks ago, Rabbi Ivan Brown from Beth Jacob Synagogue in Montpellier offered a Midrash by way of the story of the town of Gander, Newfoundland on September 11, 2001. He reminded us that when planes from all over the world were denied entry into US airspace, 38 planes, and all their passengers, landed in the small airport and town of less than 13 thousand. These people opened their doors, their homes, their hearts to nearly 7000 confused and scared people, some of whom didn’t speak english nor had translators to help. It was a moment in history that covered a little less than a week, but forever changed the lives of all who were involved. The story also became a Broadway musical that my family and I have had the privilege of experiencing. It is powerful and moving. It showed people at their best even in the midst of tragedy. It is a story of hope and peace.
What is peace? What would it mean to have peace on earth? What would it take from each of us to be people of peace and to help create the peaceable kingdom? What do you need to do in your own life to be a more peaceful person?
The prophet Isaiah paints a picture of a world without conflict, oppression, or fear. “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” Such sweetness, such a peaceful landscape this describes. This beautiful picture is in the midst of the hoping for a messiah-king, much like our passage from last week. Isaiah’s people were beginning to go through a tragedy, a time of upheaval and terror, despair and remorse. The people were looking for hope and for peace and Isaiah outlines this picture for them. Someone will come to save us, God will save us.
Like we talked about last week, we see the prophetic pattern in this passage: critique of the current oppression and hope for the future. What does God envision for us in a hopeful future? Peace. What does it require of us in order to get there? The same meekness it would take for a wolf to live with a lamb.
We are being asked to tame our inner wolf, the predator that lives within each odd us.
You may be familiar with the old Native American parable. A grandfather is teaching his grandson, "“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old man simply replied, “The one you feed.”"
Peace for our world begins within reach of us. We are taught to walk humbly and love mercy, feed the hungry and welcome the stranger. We do this, we tame our inner wolf, by cultivating within ourselves everyday a peaceful spirit.
The people of Gander, Newfoundland offered the best of themselves in the midst of a terrible time. For them, there was no second option. They showed peaceful welcome to the stranger no matter the color of their skin, what language they spoke, how much money they made, who they loved, our what religion they followed. This peaceful, loving response then inspired the people they were helping. And that has, in turn, inspired the world.
Here's a link to a song from that musical: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BJcwDBRcsk
May we all be peacemakers. Amen.