The message of Christmas is one of peace and goodwill for all mankind, exemplified in our Saviour, the Prince of Peace.
As ambassadors of Christ, and agents of peace and reconciliation, we are empowered to bring our own revelation of what this means to others.
How does this look though? What does it mean to be a peacemaker and how is this different from being a peacekeeper?
Real peace, like real joy, is something that is deep and abiding and though it can be shaken by circumstances, it is immovable. It is a place of rest.
The difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking is that to keep peace is to maintain a status quo. It’s about upholding order, and avoiding conflict and turmoil. As a result, a peacekeeper might need to be rigid, unbending, uncompromising in an environment of clear rules and guidelines. In times of great stress this can be helpful. But it’s impact often temporary, not adaptive, and doesn’t influence the process of change.
Making peace on the other hand is a more fluid process. It is often messy and unpredictable. But the methods employed in creating peace, although may appear tumultuous at times often leads to deep and abiding change and peace.
Christmas is a beautiful time of year for most, but in a world that is filled with fear, doubt, unrest and uncertainty, it can also be a time of pain and hopelessness. It can be a season that highlights a longing for what is “meant to be” but isn’t.
For many, especially those affected by Domestic and Family Violence (DFV), the Christmas season is difficult, and peace often feels elusive.
So how should we as a community respond to issues surrounding this epidemic that is affecting our nation? Firstly it is our willingness to engage in conversation, to hear what others are saying, and grow in our awareness by leaving room in our heart, thoughts, and responses of the part we can play.
As peacemakers we need to step up and take personal responsibility to ensure domestic family violence will not become accepted or embedded in our culture.
We have to be willing to work for peace, and to be okay with the fact that this stance could ruffle feathers.
Keeping peace might mean ignoring undercurrents of tension we notice in a friend’s relationship, but making peace might mean we ask her – or him – if everything is okay.
Keeping peace may lead us to justify that a person we know well and deem to have good character aggressively shoving their partner as a “one off thing”. A peacemaker in the same instance would acknowledge that they have a responsibility to address the inappropriate behaviour and report an assault.
Creating a community that is safe, and encourages help-seeking behaviour from people we know who are affected is an evolving process.
We can avoid making peace in favour of keeping peace, because in its initial stages, peacemaking can seem disruptive and even chaotic. It is very awkward and uncomfortable!
The process of peacemaking, like that of change and growth requires conviction, diligence and perseverance, and a willingness to step out of our comfort zone.
The gospel of Matthew 5:9 preaches that, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called children of God”.
May our courage and willingness to bring change, and the pursuit of love and peace, be what defines us as followers of the Prince of Peace.