My heart is breaking, as I know many of yours are and I believe God’s heart is, at this war in the land of Jerusalem whose name means “City of Shalom-Peace.” As I have reflected on what we can do on the other side of the world in the face of such intractable conflict what has come to me is that all of us who are moved by this violence and long to see peace and reconciliation in the world need to work on becoming people of peace. Peace and reconciliation must begin at home.

At Grace in 2018 our vestry adopted a set of norms we call the “agreements for communication in community.” These have helped guide us in the times of extreme anxiety and hardship we have lived through since. In 2020, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves turned them into a prayer that we offer together at the beginning of each vestry meeting. We respond to each petition with the words, “God, grant us grace.” My prayer is that we may all be granted the grace to be people of peace in these very specific ways:

May we assume the best about other people.
May we approach our work with an appreciative mindset.
May we listen with our whole self.
May we honor the stories of others, keeping confidentiality to prevent harm to the individual or the community.
May we trust the power of the Spirit to lead us following your will and not our own.
May we value our differences of opinion, learning from one another.
May we respect the dignity of one another.
May we honor one another by speaking with them and not about them.
May we exercise wisdom as we enjoy the gift of electronic communication. (this one makes us laugh, but think how much damage is done by unwise use of social media!)
May we listen and speak respectfully, leaving space for all to participate in our holy conversations.
May we honor the contributions of all, respecting that we are all members of the one body of Christ.
May we tend to this community with the utmost care, not taking for granted its fragility nor its blessing in our lives.

My deep prayer at this time, really a hope beyond hope which I only have the audacity to cling to because I believe it to be God’s heart, is for reconciliation, for healing, for deep peace in Israel and Palestine and for all in this world. Peace must begin at home. Wherever we find conflict, differences of opinion, old hurts, assumptions about others’ motives, the temptation to speak before listening, to gossip, or to dash off a hasty Facebook comment, we have the opportunity instead to turn and be people of peace. True reconciliation comes not from papering over wounds and differences, but from giving them light and air; from the capacity to remain connected and uncomfortable long enough for healing to happen. I believe that adopting practices which help us to stretch to understand the humanity and perspectives of others is the only hope of reconciliation, in our families, our small community, our nation, and in the land so many call holy.

In deep peace and prayer, Amy+