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Swords into plowshares

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Swords into Plowshares is the blog of the Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

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September 17, 2013

Season of Peace Reflection for 9/17

James 2:14–26

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

Reflection: Indeed, nonviolent direct action is one of 10 practices for reducing violence and promoting peace that were identified by an ecumenical group of Christian ethicists brought together by Professor Glen Stassen of Fuller Theological Seminary and later taken up by the 210th General Assembly (1998) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in its Resolution on Just Peacemaking and the Call for International Intervention for Humanitarian Rescue:

  1. Support nonviolent direct action.
  2. Take independent initiatives to reduce threat.
  3. Use cooperative conflict resolution.
  4. Acknowledge responsibility for conflict and injustice and seek repentance and forgiveness.
  5. Advance democracy, human rights, and religious liberty.
  6. Foster just and sustainable economic development.
  7. Work with emerging cooperative forces in the international system.
  8. Strengthen the United Nations and international efforts for cooperation and human rights.
  9. Reduce offensive weapons and weapons trade.
  10. Encourage grassroots peacemaking groups and voluntary associations.

Question for discernment: New forms of just peacemaking and nonviolence include accompaniment (where persons from outside a situation protect persons and communities under threat), truth and reconciliation commissions (an alternative to taking revenge), public expressions of confession and repentance by leaders, citizen diplomacy, shared reconstruction projects, as well as demonstrations and forms of large-scale noncooperation with undemocratic regimes. How effective can such measures be, and how essential is it for the church to encourage them?

Prayer: Stir us from our comfort and complacency. Inspire us with prophetic vision. Instill in us a passion for the possible. Give us courage to speak truth to power. Help us heal the wounds of our broken world.

Categories: Peace

Tags: peace, peacemaking, special offerings


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