Changing the World Through Peace

Session 1
Length of Time: 30
Opening Prayer

Hindu Peace Prayer

I desire neither earthly kingdom, nor paradise; not even freedom from birth and death.

I desire only the deliverance from grief of those afflicted by misery.

Oh Lord, lead us from the unreal to the real; from darkness to light; from death to immortality.

May there be peace in celestial regions.

May there be peace on earth.

May the waters be appeasing.

May herbs be wholesome and may trees and plants bring peace to all.

May all beneficent beings bring peace to us.

May their wisdom spread peace all through the world.

May all things be a source of peace to all and to me.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. (Peace, Peace, Peace)

Music
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?

How many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind.

How many years must a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
How many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?

How many times can a man turn his head
and pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?

How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind.

This version is by the singing group Peter, Paul and Mary

Introduction

I chose this song to open our session for one reason because its asks How long? How long before we recognize all humans as our brother and sisters and our equals? How long before we realize that war is not the answer and ban it along with all military weapons along with the making of them forever? How long before we live up to the words from the Declaration of Independence “That all men are created equal” and accord all people the same rights and treatment? Also how long can some people exist before they are allowed to be free and be all they were created to be? That can be in society at large or in the church. How long before sexual orientation, gender, color of skin no longer matter and discrimination based on those things is eliminated forever? How long before we quit turning our backs and pretending we don’t see the needs around us? How long before we can hear the cry of Gods people, the hurting, the despised, the poor, the outcasts and marginlized of society? How long before we realize that too many people have died who didn’t need too because of war, famine, preventable diseases (if we had taken time to find the cures for them or provide affordable health care so they could have access to the meds etc that might save them), water and air pollution, climate change etc? Will the world have to self destruct before we care and do something?

Vision of The Tapestry

“ Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,

“ Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Though this is usually taken to mean that we should come to God agreeing with Him about what He has to say about us I would like to use this in a bit different way. If I may be permitted a bit of poetic license here I would like to suggest if we come together to reason (i.e. that is really listen to each other) then we can learn, and if we have committed sins knowingly or unknowingly either singularly or as a community we can then begin to forgive, understand and move on to a new level of respect and cooperation. Let me explain.

The following is a vision that was given to me in 2002 and which was ultimately adopted by the DOC as their vision also.

VISION FOR WESTERN REGION DISCIPLINED ORDER OF CHRIST

A. VISION

“I saw a tapestry, worn, torn with many holes in it
and which was ragged around the edges. It also had a
faint image on it that couldn’t be clearly seen.
Scattered around this tapestry were many threads of
different colors lying haphazardly all over the place.
Then I saw a hand appearing beginning to pick up the
threads and begin to wave them back into the tapestry
causing color to reappear, and holes, tears, and
ragged edges to disappear also the image became clear
until I could see it was the image of Christ.

B. Interpretation of the Vision

The tapestry represents the body of Christ which over
the centuries has been torn and ripped apart leaving
the holes, ragged edges as well as a marred picture
The threads represent the different branches of
Christendom that have torn away from the original
tapestry. They have gone off to stand alone and guard
their little thread jealously lest someone come and
take it from them. God is taking those threads and
weaving them back into the original tapestry restoring
its original beauty and clarity.

In other words as we each bring our thread, our faith story, our understanding of God and what that means to us then we can begin to see the image of Christ clearly restored

C. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO THE DOC

I believe DOC is the visible living, reality of the
vision. We have succeeded in bringing Evangelicals,
Pentecostal, Catholic, Liberal and everything in
between into one body seeking to reflect the image of
Christ as we become more like Him. This is I believe
unique to the DOC and we may be the only organization
that can truly make that claim. This is what we can
offer to our world a vision of how the universal body
of Christ can and should be. We can invite each one
to come bring their thread so the image of Christ can
shine clearer and brighter until all can see Christ in
us and have no doubt as to who we belong to.

What Does This Mean?

In the Bible and in most other religious traditions we are taught to work for peace and justice. So what exactly are we talking about here?

What Is Peace and Justice?
The Hebrew tradition, the deep taproot of our movement illuminated further by the life of Jesus, helps us define the words peace and justice.
Defining Peace
Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.–Psalm 34:14 NRSV
The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. Shalom is rich in meaning. It is a comprehensive concept that means wholeness, peace, joy,
freedom, reconciliation, community, harmony of all creation—both physical and spiritual, righteousness, truth, justice, communication,
humanity.
Shalom is holistic and embraces all persons and all creation in reconciliation and harmony. When Jesus taught about peace, he was using the word shalom in all its richness. Jesus, when teaching the Beatitudes, really said, “Blessed are the shalom-makers.” The New Testament was written in Greek and eirene was the word used to translate shalom.

Defining Justice
Justice and only justice, you shall pursue…–Deuteronomy 16:20 NRSV
One word for justice in Hebrew is zedakah. The concept of justice in Judaism is different from Greek-Western views of this concept. The emphasis is not on “retribution” (punishment) or “distribution” (fair shares for all). It is more what human living should be like. That is why the word zedakah is not only translated into English as justice but also as righteousness, which means living a just life personally.
Also “justice” (zedakah) is consistently paired with “mercy” or “grace” (hesed) in the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus put them together in the Beatitudes:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.–Matthew 5:6-7 NRSV
In the church seal, the lamb can represent mercy and the lion justice. The two work together for the blessing of families, people, nations and bringing peace.

So then we are talking of bringing people and our world back to where it would have been if it had never fallen or to a better place. It is to bring people, providing an enviroment in which a person can leave their past and become all they were created to be without prejudice or condemnation. Instead they are welcomed with open arms pure and clean before God and then helped along on their faith journey to become all they were created to be.

Possible Ideas on How To Do This

1. To start with we can commit to peace and the DOC being an organization for peace by declaring we are for peace and affirm our hope and belief in Jesus and the Way of love and peace, which he lived and taught as the heart of Christian life and the mark of a true Christian.

2. Secondly we can connect with others of peace and study the lives of other men like Dr. Martin Luther King JR, Mahatma Gandhi and others and try to emulate their examples and use them as ways to teach us about peace. Recognizing that we don’t have all the answers but be willing to sit down, communicate with others sharing and receiving from them as we look for common ground from which we can work together for peace and justice.

3. Thirdly we support other alternatives to war and violence. We are for making peace through non – violent action for justice. We do that by rallying around the peaceful Jesus, studying His words, ways, teachings and seeking to implement that in our lives and then take out to the rest of the world to help change it for the better. It is time for us to learn to love as Christ taught us to. It is time we learn how to let Christ live and shine through us. It is to walk the talk and live what we say we believe. We cannot dare to do less.

In the next session we will look further into what we can do when I share a second vision the Lord gave me recently after our last retreat called ” The Reveloution of The Marginelized.

Food For Thought

Length of Time: 30 minutes

Matthew 5:9 (The Message)

9″You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

As I mentioned earlier when Jesus taught about peace and justice He taught us to be shalom makers. The above quote is from the Message Bible on what Jesus taught about shalom making.

Take about 15 minutes and reflect on what you have heard thus far and then taking pen and paper answer the following questions.

1. What does it mean to me to be a shalom maker?

2. Am I a shalom maker why or why not?

3. How could I be a better shalom maker?

Please note there are no right or wrong answers here. It is a chance for us to reflect on and apply to ourselves what we have learned thus far then share with the others if we are so inclined to do so.

After reflecting we will come back and give those who want a chance to share their reflections, answers to these questions, stories.

Break For Lunch

Length of Time: About 45 minutes to 1 hour

Suggested pot luck with each one bringing a main dish, dessert, salad, for everyone to enjoy. Maybe have some coffee, or Iced Tea or water for people to drink.

Session 2

The Revolution of the Marginalized

Opening Prayer:

I offer you peace.
I offer you love.
I offer you friendship.
I see your need.
I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from
the Highest Source.
I salute that source in you.
Let us work together
For unity and love.

(Gandhi’s Prayer For Peace)

Music

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step i take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let ther be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

REVOLUTION OF THE MARGINALIZED

BY

John W. Brown

As I was meditating on the messages of our recent retreat Loch Lemond specifically the message of Pastor John on Saturday morning and Pastor Cavalain’s on Friday night and Saturday morning I began to feel God speaking to me what I believe may be the next step in fulfillment of the vision of the tapestry given to me awhile back and which is presented here for your consideration, prayer, and if you agree with it to then help implement it in your lives first, then help find ways for us as the Disciplined Order of Christ to implement it, as well as our respective churches.

As I was praying, meditating and seeking God Saturday afternoon at our retreat the words “Revolution of the Marginalized” came to my mind. As I further meditated on this phrase God began to speak to me further.

1. What is a Revolution?

One of the meanings for Revolution I found in the dictionary was

“An assertedly momentous change in any situation”

2. Who Are The Marginalized?

They are those whom the church or society has pushed off to
the side for various reasons.

3. Why Have They Done This?

This has been done I believe because in part I believe because they don’t understand.

“You will keep him in perfect peace (Shalom in Hebrew)
Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

Shalom means to be friendly,happy, prosperous, at peace, be in good health, and to be wholly well. Perfect as used here to bring to complete fullness so nothing is wasted.

Fear stops shalom from happening and coming to full fruition in our lives. Why is this? Because we fear what we don’t understand.

Examples

A.. Protestants fear Catholics because they don’t understand them. So they reject them, fear them and become anti Catholic and vice versa Catholics fear Protestants
because they don’t understand them.

B. Straights don’t understand gays and why anyone would be attracted to someone of the same sex as themselves, so become fearful and homophobic leading to people being beat up and killed because of their sexual orientation and being perceived as different.

C. Christians don’t understand Muslims, especially why anyone would take a plane and crash into the World Trade Center causing the tragedy of 9/11. So we hate, turn against them, justify going to war against them and killing them because they are “different”.

D. Blacks and Whites don’t understand each other. So they become suspicious of each other, prejudiced and seek to kill each other or avoid contact as much as possible with each other.

These are a few examples of many that could be given. However I think these are enough to show us what I have in mind.

4. What Has Been The Attitude of the Church Generally In All This?

Unfortunately in many cases the church has been the cause of or on the side of those doing the marginalization. They have been the first to lead the charge resulting in anti
Semitics, Ku Klux Klan like organizations based on hatred of blacks or anything else they don’t agree with, bashing, beating up and killing of gay people, the Crusades, the
holocaust of World War II and many other atrocities too numerous to list here.

5. What Would Jesus Do?

Jesus record is clear here. He reached out to the marginalized of His day and made them a main focus of His ministry. Those included the, lepers, adulteresses,
prostitutes, tax collectors, political revolutionaries, the poor all whom the rest of society rejected. Following are a couple of examples.

A. Healing of the Demoniac

Mark 5:1-20

The demoniac was a man whose society forced him to live outside the city in the tombs. They had tried to help the man but failed so they banished him to the tombs, to live naked, abusing himself, crying out in agony but no one listened. Then along comes Jesus and restores the man wholly, to where he is in right mind, fully clothed and in perfect shalom i.e. restoration in all areas of his life including full restoration to his family and society. We would think people would be ecstatic about what happened.They would be glad and overjoyed for what happened to the man. Instead it says they were afraid and begged Jesus to leave pronto. Why because they didn’t understand.

B. The Woman At The Well

John 4:1-42

We need to be careful how we read this story. Obviously she was a woman who had known tragedy. She had five husbands and then was living with a sixth man. We want to judge her and condemn her. However we are not told why she had five husbands. They may have died, divorced her, abandoned her we don’t know. However please note Jesus never condemned her and nor should we. Having said that I believe there are some things we can draw from this story and her place perhaps forced on her by her neighbors and what they thought of her.

The one thing is she goes out at noon in the hottest part of the day. Why? Could it be she was trying to hide? Could it be she was afraid of what her neighbors might think of her, say to her, or might even do to her if she showed up at the same time everyone else did? Might her neighbors have judged her not knowing the facts as many of our churches have done over the years assuming she was a sinner, an adulteress or worse? Could she have been an outcast that the good people of Samaria had marginalized rather than love and deal with her?

I find a comment made here in this chapter rather interesting. In verse 42 it says many of them did not believe the words of the woman until they meant Jesus Himself and then they believed. Why wouldn’t they believe her? Could it because she was woman, an outcast, one of the marginalized people of her day? Who was offering her perfect shalom? No one until Jesus came along and offered it to her. At once she becomes
a changed person and an Evangelist going and telling everyone she meant about Jesus.

Who will hear the cry of the marginalized of our society today? Who will go and offer them perfect shalom in all of its many facets? As you reflect on that let me give you some food for thought.

If not us then who? If not now then when? How many people must die from disease, prejudice, wars etc. before we realize to many have already died and be willing to do something about it? How many more must be sacrificed on the altar of prejudice, hate and bigotry before we realize to many have suffered and died because of it and misunderstanding? How long before we realize that no one stands alone and that we need each other? How long before we can take a lesson from nature and the mighty Redwood trees.

As I shared at the retreat the mighty Redwood trees have a very shallow root system and by themselves could be easily knocked over. However to prevent that they wrap their roots around each other, holding each other up, and thus nothing can blow them over. When can we be like that?

6. How Does This Affect DOC and the Church Universal?

We are called to be like Christ and imitate Him in all He did. The word Christian refers to a follower of Christ. However this is more than mere intellectual assent to the existence of a man named Jesus. It is more that joining or going to a church somewhere or doing any other things Christians are supposed to do. Those are all good but are not what being a Christian is about. The word for follower used in the New Testament means to be an imitator. Yes Jesus went to church, was baptized, and prayed but it didn’t stop there. He also reached out to the marginalized of His day bringing perfect shalom to them. He heard their cry and was their defender, their healer, deliverer, Savior, teacher, Lord whatever they needed He was. That is our call to be to others what they need and bring perfect shalom to them. Jesus once told his disciples to go heal, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils freely without charge. (See Matthew 10:7-8) That is the example we need to follow will we do that?

7. Why Reach Out To The Marginalized?

Some may wonder what good will it do to reach out to the marginalized? Lets look at some examples of people who reached out to the marginalized and see what they accomplished.

A. Mahatma Gandhi

Was a man who went to the “Untouchables” of Indian societyand by empowering them, getting them to believe in themselves, and then through non violence won freedom and independence for India. Although not a Christian he did read about and embraced the concept of non violence as taught by Jesus and ran with it. The results are history. He also has something to say to us.

I understand that Gandhi once said “I would be a Christian if it weren’t for the Christians”. Those he had meant were part of the marginalization of the Indian people. They oppressed them, made them slaves, try to suppress them as a people all in the name of Christ.

I believe that is the cry of many of the marginalized people today. We would be Christian if it weren’t for the Christians. We would be a part if only you would invite us. We would love if you could show us how. We would come in and join you if you would open the door to us. We would get up and stand proud if you would quit knocking us down and then when we are down stomping on us, grinding our faces into the dirt. We would see Jesus can who show Him to us?

B. Nelson Mandela

A man who went to the disenfranchised blacks of South Africa. Through apartheid they had been denied their rights, segregated, refused the right to vote, assemble etc. They were treated as second class citizens or worse. Yet once given a vision of a better world that they could bring about through non violence, rose up and overthrew apartheid and made themselves the rulers of their country.

C. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

A Baptist preacher who worked in the 1950’s and 60’s for civil rights for the black people in the south until his assination in 1968. Though beaten, jailed, denounced he persevered. Gradually he was able to get the system of segregation changed, win passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964), Voting Rights Acts (1965) and many other changes. You may say there is still injustice and relations between white and blacks aren’t perfect and we still have a long way to go. May be true but can we thank God we are not where we used to be? Can we thank God for the progress that has been made and use that as a foundation for a new era of understanding between us?

Also note these didn’t accomplish what they did alone or because they were perfect. They did it by bringing together the marginalized for a common cause and kept at until they together won. In closing I would like to quote a song that was originally written for a church I used to belong too and which I believes sums up what I am trying to say and what I also believe God is speaking to us. The song was originally I believe a song from the 70’s called “No Man is an Island” author I don’t know. Later modified for my church and now shared here.

NO ONE IS AN ISLAND

No one is an island,
No one stands alone.
Each ones joy is joy to me
Each ones grief is my own.
We need one another
So I will defend
Each one as my brother
Each one as my friend.

I saw the people gathered
And I heard the music start
And the song that they were singing
Is ringing in my heart.
United in global outreach
We shall fulfill God’s word.
The saints are marching united in Him
Take your place and bring.
Victory over evil
Jesus is our King.
Overcoming all unbelief
Ruling the nations with Him.

No one is an island
No one stands alone.
Christians unite together in Him
Bring His peace to all men.
We need one another
So I will defend
Each one as my brother
Each one as my friend.

This is what I believe God is calling us to do. To see all ncluding the marginalized as brothers and sisters. Together to overcome evil and bring perfect shalom to all people through Jesus Christ. This is the revolution I talked about at the beginning of this vision. It what God is wanting from us both as DOC and as individuals. This is what I believe being a Christian is about and keeping at it until we win and the kingdom of God rules over all the earth. Will you join this revolution with me?

Break

Take about 15 minutes to stretch, go to bathroom, get something to eat or drink then reassemble for our closing session

Session 3

Length of Time: 30 minutes

Some may wonder what this has to do with my original title for this Changing the World Through Peace. Simple as we are shalom makers, we have to be people of peace (shalom) ourselves. Then as we take the peace we have to those in need of it they can experience that shalom also. In that way we can change our world through shalom.

For this session I would like everyone to take a pen and paper and answer the following.

A. What have I learned today?
B. How can I apply it to my life to make me a better shalom maker?
C. Write down a short bio of your faith journey thus far. Include where you have come from, are at currently, and what goals if any you have for the future. In the latter as to how you plan to go out put the lessons into effect that you have learned here today. Then if you like share with the others.

Closing Prayer
Peace Prayer
of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is dispair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

Closing Hymn

Possibly Let There Be Peace On Earth again

 

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