A few days ago in Iowa, a white woman drove her car onto the sidewalk running over a fourteen year old girl because she “was a Mexican.” In a church in White Settlement, a gunman opened fire, killing two members of the congregation before he was killed by armed members of the church. In a New York suburb, a man went on a rampage, stabbing people as they celebrated Hanukkah with their rabbi. These are just a few of the many episodes that show the virulent hate and evil that is consuming our society.
In fact, as we close out this year, I will always remember 2019 as The Year of Hate. It’s everywhere.
In Washington, our politicians are busy demonizing and attacking each other instead of serving the people that elected them to office. In coffee shops, our police, the very people who put their lives on the line to protect us, see words like “Pig” written on their coffee cups. This evil has even made its way into the United Methodist Church, as pastors who disagree on the LGBTQ stance of some have decided it is okay to hate those who disagree with their interpretation of scripture. And in all of this, I think God cries.
But there is an answer that addresses the hate and pain of this year. It comes from a bumper sticker I saw years ago that said: “No Jesus, No Peace; Know Jesus, Know Peace.” Truer words were never spoken.
Tomorrow, as we enter a new year, each of us has a choice. Do we continue to subscribe to the myopic view that says it is okay to hate others, or do we choose to turn our lives over to the only one who can ever bring true peace to our society and our individual lives? It’s up to us.
Jesus, in knowing that his followers would face a world filled with hate and violence, said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hears be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
The only way the world will change is if those who follow Jesus lead the way. We must choose peace instead of hate.
It is fitting to end this year with the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument
of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred,
let me sow charity;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; and Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life.
I pray your 2020 is a year filled with joy, laughter, and peace.