Learn War No More

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 – Christmas Day, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 2, 85 (morning) // 110:1-5(6-7), 132 (evening)

Micah 4:1-5; 5:2-4

1 John 4:7-16

John 3:31-36

“Unless we teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence.” So says journalist and activist Colman McCarthy, who introduced a peace studies curriculum to a public school in Washington, D.C. Since then, his courses in nonviolence and conflict management have inspired other teachers through his Center for Teaching Peace.

When I worked for Episcopal Charities and Community Services in Chicago, I got to know another curriculum for teaching nonviolence. We supported an organization called Youth Guidance, whose Becoming A Man (B.A.M.) program dramatically reduced violent crime arrests among participants by 44%.

Of course, peace studies curricula and violence-prevention programs exist on the fringes of most conversations about core standards and the allocation of resources in our education system. And yet our first reading this morning prophesies a day when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” War won’t be on the curriculum.

Many people around the world, including children, spend much more time learning strategies for war rather than acquiring the art of peace. Yet, a core prophecy from our Christmas morning readings calls us to learn something else. Christ in our midst, from his infancy through his death, is our greatest teacher of peace.

The “instruction” that comes out of Zion and the “word of the Lord” that comes from Jerusalem speaks to the world about peace. God “shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; . . . they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid.”

Today, many people are working to limit the weapons capacity of Syria, to mediate conflict in the Central African Republic, to prevent genocide in South Sudan, and to secure U.S. schools from gun violence. What better day than Christmas Day to commit ourselves to the reign of the Prince of Peace, and to pray for him to teach us all to walk in his ways.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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