That Life and Power

In a crisis, in the face of adversity, in a pivotal moment of action, how do you respond? What do you see yourself doing when the stakes are at their highest? It is difficult to know whether our answers to those questions reflect the reality of our actual responses, because when conceptualizing our responses we aren’t in the actual moments and places of crisis or confrontation. Nonetheless, we can attempt to put our hearts, minds, souls, and strength into a place where loving God and our neighbor is our intention.

Sunday, June 9, Friends United Meeting Programme Officer Getry Agizah—who has done much peacebuilding work in East Africa—gave the message during worship at Muncie Friends. In her presentation, Getry mentioned seeing, in the Meetings where she’s visited in the past few weeks, worry and fear on several peoples’ in response to conversation about potential upcoming election violence in the U.S. Getry spoke about the importance of finding peace within ourselves so there is a reservoir of peace from which we can draw. In the coming months, our reservoirs can help us as we are confronted with moments where peace needs to be found.  

During a call on June 17, with the Iowa Yearly Meeting Missions Board they asked Getry what were some specific things for which they could be praying. Getry replied, “Firstly, I would ask that we pray for each other; so that we might turn our fear into the courage needed for the moment. Secondly, that prayers be made for the work that each of us must do. The world has many needs, but we each are only able to do a certain work. Strengthen us to do that work.” 

When we think about the Friends’ peace testimony and the phrases attached to it, such as, “we live in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars,” it is tempting to think globally. A person can be overwhelmed in the face of such a large task. As with most things, peace begins with our own minds and in our own hearts; in the places where we have actual agency and real responsibility. 

Matthew 5:20 is the pivot point in the Sermon on the Mount: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus is answering his earlier statement, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” The verse invites us to a present reality of integrity. Become aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Reflect on your values and what gives your life meaning. Align your actions with your values. Cultivate compassion for yourself and others. When we think of that “life and power” it is in ourselves where gains are made. And the internal work of peace and reconciliation is able to show itself in external realities of community, simplicity, and equality.

Posted by
Michael Sherman