Watching and reading the news lately has been depressing.
I realize that the news media does not tell the whole story and that there are lots of good things happening in the world.
Yet, there has been no shortage of horrible events to concentrate on in recent days.
Most of it has been related to war. Terrible stories of commercial planes being shot out of the air, rockets being launched into schools where innocent people had gathered to seek protection, and children and adults beheaded for their refusal to convert to someone else’s religion.
It makes me quite sad that we live in a world where these sorts of things still happen.
Like millions of Christians around the globe, we prayed in unison the Lord’s Prayer last Sunday.
Right after asking that God’s name be hallowed we offered the petition, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I cannot think of a more important prayer to pray right now.
It is quite obvious as we look at the world that God’s will is not being done. Not even close. In God’s kingdom, there is no place for the hatred, violence and killing that seems so prevalent everywhere we look.
I find myself more than ever longing for, hoping for and praying for peace. The Scriptures point to God’s desire for peace, but in this area it is clear that God’s will is not being done.
Peace on earth seems about as realistic as the newly released “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie.
The odds of it ever occurring appear astronomical. For that reason, it is easy to be pessimistic.
A number of years ago, the Irish band U2 recorded a song that began with these words: “Heaven on earth, we need it now. I’m sick of all of this, hanging around. Sick of sorrow, sick of pain, sick of hearing again and again that there’s gonna’ be peace on earth.”
I understand where they’re coming from. These days it’s hard not to despair.
For me, matters are only made worse knowing that when it comes to the earth itself, there is very little peace.
The effects of climate change around the world are disheartening, if not downright frightening.
The never-ending reports of toxic chemicals making their way into our skies and waterways, the destruction of rainforests, mountain top removal, and the massive extinction of animal and plant species also point to violence, hatred and killing—to another war that robs the earth and us of peace.
At this point I’m not sure that it is enough to simply offer the prayer “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
It would seem that it is time we took seriously Jesus’ call to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), and King David’s plea to “turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).
As followers of the Prince of Peace, we are all called to live in peace with both others and creation. None of us can solve all the problems that are out there, but all of us can do something.
There is a familiar song penned by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson that begins, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
The final verse says, “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 in peace eternally. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
I will continue to pray that God’s kingdom will come and that God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven, but I firmly believe that will not happen unless we, too, do our part.
I must seek peace and pursue it. I cannot pray for that which I am not willing to work for. Neither can you.
Chuck Summers is a pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henderson, Kentucky. He is also a photographer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines and calendars, and he has published three photography books. A version of this article first appeared on Seeing Creation, a blog Summers co-authors with Rob Sheppard, and is used with permission.
Chuck Summers is a pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henderson, Kentucky.