Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Susan Pracht has completed a term of service with Church and Peace in Laufdorf, Germany–the first BVSer to serve there since the late 1980s. Church and Peace is an ecumenical organization of more than 110 corporate and individual members from all over Europe. Before departing Europe, Pracht posted the following meditation on Facebook:
In a few weeks we will be back to the unlit bare bones of trees gracing our landscape on whatever walk we can convince ourselves to endure in below freezing weather. The cloak of the festive holiday season will be stripped away, and we will be left to face January on our own.
For these short weeks of Advent and the Christmas season, we are awash in the best qualities of humanity and God: peace, joy, love, hope, family, comfort, gratitude, beauty, grace, selflessness. A few years ago I worshiped at a midnight Mass in a very formal Anglican church. With the incense, the bells, and the choir, it was easy to believe that it was magic, that the coming of the Savior really had changed everything, ourselves, all the beings of the world.
In the cold bleakness of January, it’s just harder to maintain that belief. Does our attachment to the beautiful sentiment of “righteousness and peace will kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10) mean anything after Jan. 1, 2012? In my ministry with Brethren Volunteer Service, I have had the great privilege of meeting people and communities that have dedicated decades of their lives to the peace movement. What does it take to sustain such a commitment? Based on what I have seen, these people have given themselves as a “living sacrifice.” As a member of Church and Peace’s Administrative Committee put it, peace is not a church project; it is the way of Christ.
So how do we bring the way of Christ into our everyday lives? As “The Message” translation of Psalm 85:10-13 phrases it: “Love and Truth meet in the street.” Love and Truth meet on the bus. Love and Truth meet in the grocery store. Any time you recognize the Inner Light, the image of God within another being, and treat them as such.
“Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!” Or, in the words of W.H. Bellinger Jr., a professor in the United States: “God’s unchanging love and trustworthiness come together to bring the community into right relationship with God and each other” ( www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?lect_date=8/7/2011 ). When we accept that gift of redeemed relationship and strive to live our lives accordingly, with grace, mercy, and compassion from God, God gives us peace and acceptance with ourselves, and out of that, we can give that to others. But it’s not easy. There are many voices in our heads and in our hearts. Do something every day that helps you separate yourself from the autopilot in your mind, whether it is centering prayer, meditation, cooking, taking a walk….
“Truth spouts green from the ground, Right Living pours down from the skies!” When in doubt, step outside. Breathe deeply. Look. Listen.
“Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty; our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. Right Living strides out before him, and clears a path for his passage.”
— Susan Chase Pracht, Advent 2011