If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. - Romans 12:18
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9
Greetings from Toronto! I'm spending my week up north as a part of my current seminary work. While most of my days here are filled with workshops and seminars, we will occasionally get out of the classroom for a variety of experiences. Yesterday we toured a former First Nations residential school that has become a museum and cultural center. We learned that Canada, like the United States, has a deep scar in their past due to forced assimilation of indigenous people into western culture. Native children were taken from their families and land and forced into English speaking schools, where they lost their language, their cultural traditions, and their stories. They were also terribly abused and mistreated. It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of a survivor who remembered this as a child. However, in the wake of this terrible sin, an effort is being made by the Hodinohshoni people to reclaim their beautiful culture and help the world understand their people.
As they shared their stories with us, I was captivated by one of their practices. When a peace treaty was made, a gift called a Wampum Belt was offered from one clan to another. Wampum are white and purple tubular beads made from the inside of Conch shells. They are very small, and even a skilled worker can only make about 4 every hour. These beads are then woven together and presented as a symbol of living in peace together.
Here's the thing. There are a TON of beads in a Wampum Belt. I did the math. The one I was looking at took about 900 hours to make! NINE HUNDRED HOURS. If you only made beads straight for 40 hours a week, that would take almost 23 weeks!
The labor intensive process made a wampum belt very special, and it symbolized a timeless truth...
It takes hard work to make peace.
And don't we know it!
Repairing broken relationships requires immense time and energy. Seeking understanding with others is incredibly time consuming. Choosing love over winning an argument isn't just something that easily happens. It can only occur if we are working for hours, days, and weeks to let Jesus soften our hearts enough to be formed in a new way. We must sit with Jesus, inviting him to chip away a lot of stone.
Central to the good news of Jesus is the understanding of making peace... in so many ways. Jesus, through the process of entering into humanity, revealing what God is truly like, and absorbing the sin and violence of the world, makes peace with us by extending radical forgiveness and love. From there, we are also called to make peace with one another, to seek to live in unity and gentleness, moving beyond the labels, assumptions and selfishness of our culture and into a life of everyday reconciliation. Spoiler alert: That's going to take even more than 900 hours. That's going to take all of the hours. So let's get to it. Thank goodness we're not doing it without the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, you gave everything to make peace with us. May we commit to the long term work of weaving your love into something beautiful in the world. Form us into people who make peace.
Peace to you today,