Blessed are the Peacemakers
Our theme for this silent Sunday is the beatitude taught by Jesus in Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
I invite you to begin this quiet morning with a short guided time of quietening which leads into a piece of music titled "The beauty of your peace" sung by Tim Hughes:
Time: 15 minutes
Listen to the following song as a lead into a time of silence:
Spend some time in silent prayer now (you can choose between a 10 minute timer and a 20 minute timer below, which each have a gong at the beginning and three gongs at the end).
Read the following passages through twice or three times, and listen for any word or phrase that seems to be inviting you to linger with it.
Jesus sad to his disciples
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked because of their fear, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God."
Guided practice - breathing peace:
Peacemaking as a practice - some ideas:
As Etty Hillesum points out, this begins with reclaiming peace within ourselves. This we do by regularly returning to and abiding in God as the Source of peace, allowing our own inner beings to attune to the oceanic peace of Christ. Otherwise our words of peace are likely to be shallow and empty.
You could end your regular silent prayer times with a few minutes of actively practicing this offering of peace to the world, using your out-breath as a symbol of offering your peace to the world as an overflowing from the Heart of God, the Source of Oceanic Peace. I have found it helpful to pray on the out-breath "My peace I give to you" - this self-giving is such an important part of the process, echoing the self-giving attitude of Jesus.
As you go through your day, set an intention to be a peacemaker, and notice the difference that this brings to your interactions. Even when walking from one place to another, walk in the way described by Thich Nhat Hanh: “We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth.”
Whenever possible, and with every person you meet, no matter how insignificant they may seem, practice saying quietly to them, from your heart, "Peace be upon you". If you prefer you could use the words of other languages, such as "Thula Sizwe", or Shalom, salaam, vrede, shanti or however you want to express it in that moment. I find using different languages or expressions from other religions can help to build an inner bridge where divisions are very entrenched.
When you are with somebody troubling, practice breathing in the conflict and breathing out peace - this is the practice that we will do together.
For further reflection:
Below are the quotes from the introduction and some additional quotes for further reflection:
“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”
Thich Nhat Hanh:
“Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”...
“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.”
The Golden Sufi Centre:
“Real peace is a quality of pure being. The peace that Christ left with his disciples, the peace “not as the world giveth,” is in all of us. It is part of our essential nature. But like many qualities of the soul it remains hidden, overlooked by our perceptions and ways of relating that are so grounded in duality, conflict, and self-interest. … All of humanity needs to have access to the peace of the soul, for this peace belongs not just to each individual, but to the soul of the world. And if we look around us, we see that the world needs this peace.”
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you."
"Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odourless but all together perfume the air."
John Philip Newell - Prayer for peace
Peace for the earth and its creatures
peace for the world and its peoples
peace for our fathers
peace for our mothers
peace for our brothers and sisters.
The peace of heaven’s vastness
the peace of ocean depths
the peace of earth’s stillness
Listen to the following traditional peace song, Thula Sizwe, and feel free to sing along:
U Jehova wakho uzokunqobela
(repeat 3 times)
u Jehova wakho uzokunqobela
(repeat 3 times)
Be at peace, people, be comforted,
Your Jehovah will protect you
Be free, be free,
Your Jehovah will protect you
Ending Prayer for Peace:
Beloved our God, Source of Peace
Place upon all beings
Peace, goodness, blessing,
Grace, loving-kindness and compassion.
Bring us to our knees in the face of brokenness.
Let us feel the pain, the suffering of each other.
Let us know it as our own.
Bless us all – the whole of the human family.
Help us rise again and again
Into the light of possibilities,
Into the light of sacred Presence.
Open us to the ways of love,
Generosity and justice,
To the ways of life,
Compassion, kindness and peace.
Help us see with humility
And meet each moment with blessing.
In the face of all that is,
Call us present
To stand together as one
To be cultivators and instruments of Your peace.
May our lives be for healing.
May our lives be for peace.
- adapted from a prayer by Rabbi Yael Levy
As ending music, you could listen to either or both of thee following songs: the first is a beautiful version of the Prayer of St Francis by Sarah McLachlan, and the second is a fun collaboration between Yusuf / Cat Stevens and Playing for Change, singing the song "Peace Train":
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