From the Pastor
Peace will come, and let it begin with me.
Lovely words, from a song by Tom Paxton. I've found myself singing it to the boys a lot, recently.
I think we all hope for peace. The absence of violence from our lives, the end of war, the ability for all of humanity to live calmly and equitably upon this Earth, taking only what we need and considering the needs and desires of our neighbors to be as important as our own. I think we all pray for the day when our impulse will be to act lovingly, to see in each person we encounter, in each glimpse of nature, the image of God.
But I think we sometimes forget that hoping and praying is not enough; that the second line of the song is as important as the first.
Jesus, throughout his ministry, reminded his disciples that the Realm of God was at hand - actually within their grasp. And they, as subsequent generations have done, seem to have sat back in great anticipation and waited for God to get everything all set up. They waited for the Creator to be the Re-Creator, the Renewer, the Bringer of peace and healing and new life.
And while they waited, they bickered about what the Realm of God would be like; and dumped their trash where the river would wash it away; and they hunted down the predators who were eating their flocks; and they put questions of race, and class, and gender, and ethnicity ahead of a common and shared humanity; and they justified all of their actions with quotes from Scriptures and the comforting knowledge that this world would soon pass away anyway and God would make all things new and right and perfect.
At some point, it seems as though we stopped really believing that the Realm of God was within our grasp; peace and renewal became the subjects of our long-term prayers and hopes, rather than our day-to-day reality.
The thing is, however, that the Realm of God is still at hand. It's still within our grasp. It's still waiting for us to reach out and seize it.
And let it begin with me.
Let it begin with each of us embodying all of the things that we envision in God's Realm.
Let it begin with each of us choosing peaceful means of conflict resolution; choosing not to inflict our pain upon others; choosing our words carefully and lovingly and not casting blame for misunderstanding.
Let it begin with each of us recognizing the humanity of all; recognizing that even violent humans, even cruel humans, even wounded humans, are beloved children of God; recognizing that God grieves the loss of each and every human soul to the darkness of fear, and that we are called to grieve this loss as well.
Let it begin with our understanding of all of Creation as holy and blessed: our responsibility, rather than our birthright; ours to share equally and unstintingly with all who are hungry, all who are thirsty, all who are in need of healing and wholeness.
Let it begin with each and every one of us being intentional about our relationship with God expressed through our relationships with one another and all of Creation.
Let it begin with us boldly claiming our discipleship, claiming God's promises of grace and love.
Peace will come, because the Realm of God is as close as our own hands.
Peace will come, and let it begin with us.
Yours in Christ, Eliza
Eliza was raised in Acton, Massachusetts. She earned a BA with honors (French and Spanish, Magna cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999, and a MA (French Studies) from New York University in 2001. She graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a M.Div. in 2009.
Following graduation she served as Youth Coordinator at First Congregational Church in Sharon, Massachusetts. She will be ordained in June, and then formally installed at First Church by the Carroll-Strafford Association of the New Hampshire Conference.
She is the first woman to serve as Pastor of First Church in its 281 year history. Eliza is married to Marcey Buchakjian-Tweedy, and they have two sons, Asa (age 2) and Elias (age 4 months). They currently live in Attleboro, Massachusetts, but will be moving to Rochester in May.
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