My Turn, Carol Hallman: Pray for peace in times of war

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 27, 2022

By Carol Hallman

Why is this important to us, the people of Salisbury, to pray for peace?

Many years ago, after Sept. 11, I was in Germany to attend a Kirchentag as a representative of our partnership with the Lutheran church in the Thuringia region of Germany. The meeting was to be held in Jena, which is part of the former East Germany.

One evening we went to a tiny little town and gathered with a small group of faith-filled people who had been gathering together each week since our nation had gone into Iraq. They gathered each week to pray for peace. They were members of different faith groups from throughout their small town. They talked about life under the Soviets and the challenge to live faithfully as the church. And we prayed. In German and in English. We prayed for each other and we prayed for peace. Prayer is a universal language.

We pray for peace because scripture calls us to. Psalm 34 says to seek peace and pursue it.

Proverbs says, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to God: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (and sisters).”

Scripture tells us to love our neighbors, and it seems clear that our neighbor is pretty much everyone. Scripture also tells us to love our enemies and that is just plain hard. War is never the answer.

Dialogue, listening, caring, looking for ways forward together are ways to find answers. War just leads to more brokenness and suffering. War just adds to division and hate. We are all one people, created in our creator’s likeness. What happens to the people of the Ukraine happens to our neighbor, to our brothers and sisters.

I was at Winona LaDuke’s presentation this week at Catawba College, and she asked us to think about what legacy we wanted leave, to be the ancestor that our descendants would be proud of. The legacy I wish to leave is to speak up when there is injustice, to act for peace in times of war and to love even when it’s hard. This is such a time.

We pray because there are families being torn apart by war. We pray because all the bloodshed was preventable. We pray because families are being forced to flee their homes and their homeland searching for peace. We pray because that’s what people of faith do in such times as this.

Isaiah says, “God shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4) This is not just a vision. It’s a hope and a promise.

There’s also always the scripture from the sermon on the Mount, “blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.”

Carol Hallman is pastor of First United Church of Christ in Salisbury.