Christ's peace is not docility; it is calm and compassionate, and it speaks the Gospel with courage. And it really does make a difference.

The Spoken Version

Listen to an audio version of this reflection.

The Scripture

Psalm 8
interpreted by Deborah

O God, our radiant King, the whole earth proclaims Your sovereign majesty, a creation more glorious than the heavens!

With the cooing of babies and the laughter of toddlers You repel the assaults of Your opponents, silencing the vicious and the bloody-minded.

When I look at Your heavens, all the wonders You have created, the moon and the stars that You have set in their places; what are human beings that You give them any thought, mortals that You care for them?

Yet You have made them a little less than divine, and bestowed upon them glory and honor.

You have given them authority over what You have made; You have put everything under their power: domestic animals, wild creatures; the birds of the air, the fish of the seas; all that is above, upon, and under the earth.

O God, our radiant King, the whole earth proclaims Your sovereign majesty, a creation more glorious than the heavens!

Photo of a flower

The Glorious and the Grim:
Life and Death in America by Deborah Beach Giordano

Praise and Remember

God is gracious and merciful, creation is a grand and glorious miracle of life and beauty, yet not all is sweetness and light — as the Scriptures, the ancient prophets, and our Lord Jesus warned us. There are poisonous snakes in the Garden. Destructive desires can tempt even the holiest souls. It is naive and foolish to think otherwise.

snakeEvil is a real thing; wickedness is a genuine, powerful force, feeding on the energy of human cooperation. What we say and do, our beliefs and our choices influence what happens in the world to a far greater degree than we perhaps realize, or are willing to admit.

When horrors rise up before us, we hide behind excuses and rationales, blaming and accusing institutions, organizations, and materials. How easy lies our conscience, how righteous our indignation, when Another Terrible Event is someone else's fault. But what if it isn't?

A Warning and a Lamentation

JeremiahThere is an extraordinary passage in the book of Jeremiah, perhaps the most powerful in all of the prophetic writings. In modern times the fellow would be medicated into silence and submission, but in those days the prophet's voice was heard. Witnessing the disasters unfolding upon God's people, he cries out a lamentation, desperate and tragic:

“Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart! Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry.

“Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in the blink of an eye. How long must I see the battle flag and hear the sound of the trumpet? My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.”     ~ Jeremiah 4:18-22

Do you hear who is speaking? This is not the voice of the man Jeremiah, but the lamentations of God. “My people do not know Me!” It is God's heart that is breaking, it is God who is crying out words of warning, horrified and grieving — in anguish at the spectacle of His children's hurt and destruction.

“Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. How bitter it is!”

Bitter, indeed.

No wonder the crowd dragged Jeremiah off and tossed him into a septic tank. Who wants to hear that we're responsible for the bad things that are happening? “It's nothing to do with me; no no no. Somewhere, someone, something, some other is to blame!”

But I wonder.

The Value of Life

Less than two weeks prior to the Massacre in Uvalde, a possible overturn of Roe vs. Wade was publicized. Aggressive and alarmist reactions ensued; battle lines were drawn. Large, widely-covered demonstrations and marches in Washington, D.C. and other cities across the nation called for full, unrestricted abortion, at any stage in pregnancy. Influential political and media voices added their support; the unborn were described as disposable, problematic “clumps of cells,” and likened to tumors, their removal a benefit to mother and society — views that were broadcast far and wide. And then…. Uvalde.

Children's cemeteryAnd I wonder. Can it be that the horrific murders are a vivid example of what it means to value children’s lives so little? Isn’t it just the next step?

Do not misunderstand: I am not suggesting that God is punishing us by taking the lives of innocent children; nor do I believe there to be a direct correlation between those two events. What I do believe is that these tragedies are the result of the path we as a people have followed, the social environment we have constructed that holds life cheap, whether infants in the womb, the elderly in nursing homes, inner-city residents, food-service workers, or humanity itself — in the careless tampering with viruses and DNA, and, not least, horrific experiments on animals.

Weapons of War

Our nation supplies trillions of dollars in weapons of death and destruction to other countries around the globe. We respond to violence with more violence, and to mass murder by facilitating more murders, treating killing as an acceptable, even desirable, solution to conflict. Rather than expressions of sorrow at senseless deaths, calls for peace and diplomatic intervention, we are regaled with “enemy” body counts as proof that “our side” is winning.

Can it be unrelated that shootings are so commonplace in our larger cities that the news reports the numbers rather than listing individual names of victims? It's the new normal. Fifty-one people were shot in Chicago over the 2022 Memorial Day weekend, nine fatally. In April a shoot-out between rival gang members took place in Sacramento (the capitol of California, the state with the most restrictive gun control measures in the Union) six people were killed, at least a dozen more were injured, some critically. It would be disingenuous of us to be shocked.

Grim Reaper

A blood-soaked track runs through the heart of America. And wickedness skates along, unimpeded, killing our children — children of every age, race, and creed. And the damage extends beyond immediate physical violence.

Collateral Damage?

Over 105,000 children and young adults have died from illegal drugs during the past year; some by accidental overdose, many by suicide. These have become so frequent, so routine, so “normal,” that we accept them as inevitable. We train our cops and EMTs to administer Narcan as a “fix” — not a cure, only a temporary postponement of the inevitable.

In some cities Class 3 drugs are provided, free of charge, to anyone who asks. We keep addicts perpetually addled rather than give them a chance to become full, functioning members of society. What gifts might these men and women bring to our world, what joys might they experience, if we treated them as valuable human beings instead of surrendering them to their addictions? A friend in recovery described her drug use as a “slow suicide”; what are we doing when we not merely enable, but promote these behaviors?

Which of our children will be next?

Just Words?

Where are the outcries against this Cult of Death that enmeshes us?

It was only after this (most recent) tragedy that there been marches for peace, and this on a very limited scale. Gun control? Can we really delude ourselves into believing that alone will change this culture?

In arguments, disagreements — disputes of all sorts, where are the voices calling for compassion, for open discussion, reasonable accommodation, for moderation rather than absolute All-or-Nothing demands that polarize and set people of good will against one another?

shadow fighters

It is a pattern too-often repeated in our country. Why is this so? It can only be that we love violence, for it is propagated in our media and proclaimed from the mouths of our politicians: destroy the opposition, shut down disagreement, establish targets, silence, crush, eradicate, eliminate. We demand, we shout, we call each other names; we demean and dehumanize; we blame and accuse, we threaten, we condemn.

Words have meaning, they have power — to influence, to inspire, to terrify, to provoke.

And another distraught and damaged child goes on a killing spree.

“Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. How bitter it is!” says the Lord.

Our Place in the World

earthWe live in perilous times, but that is not the whole story. As we affirmed from the start: God is gracious and merciful, creation is a grand and glorious miracle of life and beauty. And the Holy One has given us authority — responsibility — over all that He has made.

And here we are; called to be Christians in this place at this time. What shall we say, what shall we do, how shall we act?

We cannot stand silent and docile while a violent storm rages across our nation and around the planet. Whatever our prayerful consideration leads us to believe on the issue of abortion, gun control, or any other matter, our faith requires that it be expressed with lovingkindness, compassion, mercy — not in shouted slogans or condemnations. It also, I believe, calls us to insist that this quality of mercy and compassion be the framework for all public dialog.

We must speak out against the language of violence and hatred — the incessantly repeated litany of the Cult of Death. It curls through our society like a venomous serpent, hissing and spitting and poisoning our thoughts, our actions, our institutions. It normalizes terror, torture, murder, suicide, war…. It makes the unthinkable, possible. And children — of every age, race, and creed — die.

And God's heart is breaking along with ours.

Fighting Fire with …. Still Waters

"Jesus was the most active resister known perhaps to history. His was non-violence par excellence.”
    ~ M.K. Gandhi

Jesus Christ, Savior

Real change can come through peace. We have to start by believing that to be so, and by acting accordingly. Real healing, genuine understanding, true community can only come through peace. We must declare peace: call for peace, and speak out against the acceptance and outright embrace of violence and death — in our language, our media, our private conversations, our public discourse, our policies.

Jesus declared, “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
    ~ Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 10:12

We have a responsibility to God and to our neighbors to bring healing to the damaged and damaging behaviors that have infected our nation. Lives literally hang in the balance.

And it all starts with us — with our hearts and minds and souls and strength: in what we think, what we say, what we do; in what we support and encourage. Ultimately, it's about Who we follow:

And again the Lord Jesus said to them, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so also I am sending you.
    ~ John 20:21

Peace. It is the Way of Christ, the Way of Life.

May Christ's peace abound,


Suggested Spiritual Exercise

How can you bring Christ's peace into our world?

Additional Resources

Domestic Violence: National Coalition on Domestic Violence

Uvalde: To support the families and community affected by the tragedy at Robb Elementary School. All donations held locally at First State Bank of Uvalde through the Robb School Memorial Fund.

Healing and Inspiring Hymns

Let it start with me! © 2011, words and lyrics by Sam Allen and Laura Allen, Curb Records.
Let There Be Peace on Earth © 1983, Jill Jackson, Sy Miller, Jan-Lee Music