Let It Begin With Me

I hope you have had the chance to read what Trevor and Chris have written over the last week regarding the cultural narrative about race, inequality, injustice and “otherness”. I am proud to write with men like these guys and am appreciative of their willingness to share their thoughts and hearts in this space.

The three of us have had discussions about these complex issues and our hearts break for everyone involved. Events like these tend to show the ugliness of humanity — all of humanity. I have very little to add to the discussion other than my hearty “Amen” to what they have written. Thanks, guys.

With these types of things going on, it can be very difficult to write about the themes of Advent. Things like hope and peace can seem like abstract realities when dealing with the frail existence of our world. Can hope and peace actually be realized in a place like this?

But just today I heard a song that reminded me of why peace can be real. Sy Miller and Jill Jackson were songwriters who in 1955 introduced a group of young people to a song they had just written. The young people were teenagers gathered from high schools throughout California — all from different racial, cultural and economic backgrounds — to experiment with creating understanding and friendship through discussion, education and working together. On one night during this summit, the   young people linked arms and sang the song that Jackson described as springing from the “life-saving joy of God’s peace and unconditional love.” The song soon spread all over the world and has been recorded over and over again.

That song is Let There Be Peace on Earth. You have probably heard it, but the words are a great reminder for us today. Here they are:

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

It begins with me.

MeThere is so much heartache and unrest in the world that it can be easy to sit back and wait for it all to change. Or to simply lament that the world is broken. But when Jesus came into this world, it was a shot to the heart of the darkness. His life is an example that peace is possible, even in the midst of the darkness.

But peace must begin with me. And with you. The way to battle racism or inequality or poverty or hunger is for each of us to listen, to admit our own faults, to share, to take a step outside ourselves and care for the “other”.

The way to battle large cultural issues is not to simply wage war through politics or rhetoric, but for each and every one of us to live with peace, hope and joy in a way that makes a difference for those around us and inspires one more person to do the same.

Maybe the great ills of this life will not be wiped out. Maybe we won’t solve the greatest problems in our world. We’ll probably have to wait for God to take care of that. But if it begins with me (and with you), then perhaps peace and hope and joy and love will not seem like far-off fantasy, but present realities that we can share together.

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