The combination of peace and justice is one that very close to God’s heart. Though both words might not often appear in the same passage of the Scriptures, we often find that the attitude of humility that God requires of us…spoken about in today’s text by St. James…are to result in both. The prophet Amos once asked rhetorically, “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God” (6:8). In our text for today, St. James puts it like this: “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness (i.e., “justice”) is sown in peace by those who make peace” (3:16-18).
Making peace by asking one another for forgiveness is a uniquely Christian task. Above all other things, it is what churches should be facilitating followers of Jesus to do! And yet, humbling ourselves to admit wrongdoing and living in peace with one another is outside of our ability as fallen, strife-loving people. Especially when we are used to being right (as parents, teachers, administrators, and yes…even pastors!), to admit that we are indeed wrong requires a real stepping-down. Join us this Sunday as we celebrate the Prince of Peace, the One who humbled himself to death..even death on the cross…that we sinners might be reconciled to God and take part in a ministry of reconciliation, too! Take heart that God’s Spirit within you leads you to receive the gift of God’s peace as a small child that you might ask for forgiveness from others where you have sinned. And our focus on making peace does not end there. In about six weeks, Trinity will be hosting an event organized by the Community Mediation Center of St. Mary’s County called “A Community Conversation.” The Conversation is designed to facilitate meaningful interactions between ordinary people like you and me about race, privilege, and brokenness in the Lexington Park community that God has put us in this neighborhood to address. I pray that the event will facilitate mutual understanding and lead to a greater measure of justice and peace between us and the people of our community.
It has been said in reference to the now stalled peace talks in Middle East: “Justice is the preemptive condition for peace, and peace is the preemptive condition for justice.” With such a vicious circle it is not difficult to see why lasting peace in some parts of the world (or in some communities or in certain families) remains so elusive. Let’s do all that we can to break that cycle, wherever we may find it. Jesus is there to give us all that we need, as we do.