Tuesday, November 1, 2011
This is the completed lower border of the right side tapestry for the Nativity church commission I am working on. The elements in it are a bunch of grapes, the "Peace" banner, and a dove.
The bunch of grapes refers to our community, with Christ and with each other. Christ said He is the vine, and we are the branches. We are to bear fruit to stay alive. The fruits of the Spirit are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. Things to strive towards, and to check our lives for frequently. (Notice that I said we're to check our own lives for them, not everybody else's lives.) We are not on the branches alone, however, and these fruits need to be born in community with others. That is the tough part! The bunch of grapes doesn't have just one big juicy grape on it that is me. My grape must rub up against a whole bunch of other grapes!
The Peace banner is very important to me. I believe all followers of Christ are to be Peacemakers, because He is a Peacemaker. When asked about how to treat our enemies, He said to turn the other cheek, and to love our enemies. He did not say to go to war and bomb them. That is the difference between worldly 'wisdom' and spiritual wisdom. James says,
"... the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace." (James 3:17, 18)
Sounds a bit like the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5, doesn't it? James 4 goes on to talk about where wars, fights, and murder come from. They do not come from the peaceful Spirit of God. I find it hard to swallow when a christian says things that show he or she is supportive of any war, just as I would find it hard to believe a true follower of the Peacemaker would be supportive of any form of murder. I have often heard military members praised for being willing to 'give their lives' for others and their country, but what goes unsaid is that they are also expected to be willing to take the lives of others for their country. As a Peacemaker, how can I support that?
I know I will be controversial in saying these things, in today's world. Christ was controversial when he said to love our enemies, too. But I am a pacifist because I am a follower of the One who came to show us how to live in Peace.
The final element on this border is the dove. It symbolizes both the dove of Peace, and the Spirit, who manifested as a dove when Christ was baptized.
"Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9
May your life be blessed.... May you live in Peace.