Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blessed are the peacemakers

In my sermon this past weekend, I encouraged the congregation to look for signs of the kingdom of God. As I came into the church building this morning, I noticed a little sign taped on my door and a few of the walls that said "CK". Someone in the congregation was inspired to post these as reminders that we are Citizens of the Kingdom.

With the Beatitudes echoing in my ears: blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, I saw this image out of Egypt and nearly immediately thought: God's kingdom.

It was taken Feb 3 and is attributed to Navine Zaki. Christians encircle Muslims to make space for them to pray.


Admittedly, I am curious to know if anyone takes issue with the idea of Christians protecting Muslims as a sign of the Kingdom. I hope not, but with the heightened political-religious climate of the Middle East and the strong opinions that Muslim/Christian dialogue generates, I am sure people disagree with me.

This kind of peacemaking - where you actually have to create a space of peace where one shouldn't exist - takes courage and faith. It is easy to be a peacemaker when everyone agrees. It is much more challenging to put yourself in the line of fire and protect someone that you could rightfully be afraid of.

If I read the situation right (and I may be wrong), Christians and Muslims might be pitted against each other in whatever emerges as the new Egypt. Indeed, plenty of reports about the role radical Islam might play in a new Egyptian government seem written to inspire fear - a poison to peace-making.

On the other hand, Christians and Muslims have an extraordinary chance in this revolution to create peace in a new way. I take it as a sign of the kingdom that at least some are doing it.

I was moved to read a story about how an interfaith group worshiped together on Sunday. Click here for the report. I am a bit hesitant to post it because I can't find a whole lot of press on it. With all the reports coming out of Egypt, it's hard to know exactly what incidents will stand the test of time. I hope this is more than just an isolated incident of peace-making.

Right now in Egypt, there is a common enemy to rally around. What will happen when a new government is in place? Will the bonds that are created in this revolutionary effort help create lasting peace?