Bishop Bascom reflects on peacemaking during civil unrest

Bishop Cathleen Bascom preached this sermon during an online service of “Worship in Time of National Anxiety” on Jan. 7.

The Beatitudes describe what members of the Jesus Movement look and act like. Jesus included: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

Yesterday as I sat in my office watching footage of demonstrators, and crouching federal legislators, and police with fire-arms raised to protect them, I looked across my desk to a beautiful Christmas card sent to me by the bishop of Arizona that holds this message:

“In a year that contained so much hardship, we remember the birth of the love that sustains us through every travail.”

As First John says, “see what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”

Last night, it seemed so clear to me that one of our callings in this time of civil unrest is to commit ourselves to seeing every neighbor – those with whom we agree and those with whom we disagree – as children of God. We must consider them to be holy.

Today, preparing for this liturgy molded by Dean Torey Lightcap, I have noted perhaps for the first time that Jesus inextricably links our becoming children of God with our call to be peacemakers.

What does making peace look like right now?

Lately, I have been re-devoting myself to the practice of centering prayer – 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. It just so happens that my new centering word is “peace.” It has been a great balm for my personal state as bishop, and as wife and mother, and citizen.

Interestingly, yesterday morning, before news of the protests, I had felt nudged by the Spirit to direct my repetition of “peace” for those in positions of public trust. “Peace.” God knew how much they needed it. This is one way we can be peacemakers, praying peace daily, for ourselves and for others.

Today on a Zoom call, Archdeacon Anne Flynn powerfully reminded our clergy that much unrest in our country flows from economic and educational hardships. Making justice is making peace.

When we actively engage our elected officials calling them to govern with integrity on our behalf – this too is peacemaking.

We engage these acts because we are, and all are, children of God.

Many of us, simply feel disheartened and overwhelmed by recent events. May feel shell-shocked. But it is then we remember that Jesus – after he had endured horrific upheaval came among them and breathed his Spirit into them:

“Peace I leave with you; my own peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

We open ourselves that Christ may bring peace to the world through us. Amen.

Note: This service, from Grace Cathedral, Topeka, can be viewed on the cathedral Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Bishop Bascom also offered a video message to the diocese the evening of Jan. 6. It can be viewed on the diocesan YouTube channel.

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