The 2nd grade led our Worship this week. The theme was based on Matthew 5:1-12, The Beatitudes. Each child recited a “blessed are…” with pictures and descriptions to depict the meaning of each verse. Then Pastor Cory Smith from Redeemer Lutheran spoke. He told the children he wanted to focus on one particular verse… “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” Oh, my!! So often I have inwardly scoffed when people would say, “God told me…” How in the world do they know that for sure??? But as Pastor Cory emphasized the importance of our role as peacemakers in this world, I could totally hear God’s message permeating my mind. Pastor Cory’s message was a confirmation from my morning insight conjured from a National Public Radio (NPR) spot and a metaphor elicited in my mind in reference to that radio story.
The journalist on the radio told of the heated accusations against an author who had recently written a novel in the voice of an ethnic population that was not her own. The publishing company cancelled her book tour because of threats made against this author. As I heard this story, I was so saddened that she, who had the intention of making a case for good, had in the end, been targeted as doing something woefully wrong. Was that her intention? My heart thinks not. But, my point is not with her story, but rather the reaction of our society.
As I listened to the grievances and anger against this author, the rancor of their accusations reminded me of one of the latest Disney renditions of Cinderella. Near the end of that movie, Cinderella’s wicked step-mother had just shattered her glass slipper on to the floor, dashing Cinderella’s dreams. Cinderella looked at her wicked step-mother and asked incredulously, “Why are you so cruel? I don’t understand it. I’ve tried to be kind to you.”
As I reflected on the author and the cruel response of our society, I heard Pastor Cory imploring of our students, “Listen…God calls us to be peacemakers in the world.” Is it that hard to stop and put aside bias in favor of goodness? Is it that hard to assume that one has good intentions instead of assuming one has bad intentions? I’m reminded of Robert Taibbi, the author of a text I used when teaching Family Counseling, he said, “Most people are doing the best that they can.”
Have your intentions or words ever been misunderstood? What would happen if we started a trend to look for the best intentions instead of immediately looking at a response or statement as jaded, flawed, or mean? What if we looked at more statements at face value, made by innocent people trying to find their way in the world, doing the best they can with what they have? What if we took on the heart of Peacemaker…one whose mission is to knit relationships together so that joy and peace may abound in a world that has lost its way, mired in deceit and distrust?
The world yearns for peacemakers. As a flame shatters the darkness, so does a peacemaker shatter anger, cynicism, distrust, and hate. Peacemakers always hold the hope, the light. And all know that light has power over darkness. That is why God has the last word. That is why Cinderella walked away with the Prince.