Happy are people who make peace because they will be called God’s children. (Matthew 5:9, Common English Bible)
There have been a lot of troubling images out of the city of Baltimore.
These images of violence fill our TV and computer screens. And let’s be honest, they are a bit more than we can handle. The tension in our society over justice for all people seems to have collided in the streets.
Questions are being raised by many, especially those in the church, as to how we should respond. What does justice look like? What role does the church play in such discussions? Where is God calling us to be a part of this?
As the week progressed, other images began coming out as citizens of Baltimore cleaning the streets. It stands in stark contrast the images of violence and rioting. These countless individuals chose to walk their streets and do good instead of shouting out all the reasons why what is happening is right or wrong. The words we say are only effective when they are matched by our actions.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches that those who are makers of peace are blessed.
Several years ago during a small group discussion, a church member pointed out the difference between peace-making and peace-keeping. Peace-keeping results in keeping things relatively the same. In peak-keeping, very little change occurs. We support the status quo. But, peace-making requires the hard work of reconciliation and results in some form of change for the good.
Jesus is calling for us to be makers of peace.
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. We are called to be shalom – to be peace. This is what we can offer. We can be makers of peace as we clean streets filled with violence. When we hand out bottles of water, we are makers of peace. In choosing peace over violence we are makers of peace.
And we are called to bear hope.
This week comedian Larry Wilmore sat down with members of opposing gangs in Baltimore for his Comedy Central show. He took the train down from New York to Baltimore and sat with these young men at a dinner table. The discussion that followed was open and honest. They talked about the challenges they have faced, the systems of injustice that are in place, and the current reality in Baltimore. As these young men sat around this table, they talked about hope, stating in the interview that all Americans should “keep the hope.”
When we live in the hope, we are shalom to our communities. It is as hope bearers that we fill our communities with compassion and justice. When we are shalom, we are doing our part to set up the beloved community. A community like the one Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed about – where children of all colors would join hands and look at one another through the eyes of God.
Let us go each day not only speaking words of peace but being shalom.
How can you be shalom this week?