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December 2020 — Monthly Update: Bearers of Peace

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”
—Isaiah 9:6–7

Most people wonder from time to time why they are on the planet. They ask: what is God’s will for my life?

Jesus was asked a question like this by his enemies in order to entrap him. He simply said that we are to love God and to love others. (Matthew 22:36) Jesus made it sound so simple. And, yet. We aren’t very good at this are we?

In fact, God saw from the beginning our struggle with this simple mandate and sent his son to the earth to be born as man and to die as a man. Jesus shed tears at death, experienced fatigue, betrayal, shame, and suffering.

Because God wanted reconciliation (peace-shalom) with his beloved children and between his beloved children, he sent a savior, his very own son.

Peace and reconciliation matter. More than being right. More than just about anything. God wants us to live at peace with one another.

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

Regardless of our political position, we cannot miss the division in our local communities, our regions, our states, and our nation. We are divided as a people. And I can only imagine that this grieves our God who loves us and wants nothing more and nothing less than peace and reconciliation.

Paul calls us out in his second letter to the church at Corinth: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Cor. 5:18-20

What does reconciliation look like? What might reconciliation look like if we made it our mission to be bearers of peace?

One of the positive marks of our community is how we have become more tolerant, careful to not vilify others by the color of their skin, their religion, or their address. I think we are pretty good at that.

But, there are always scapegoats in a community. I have been stunned over the last five years working intimately with those in poverty and without homes that it seems ok to hate, vilify and name-call those who struggle most in our community. It is stunning the names that they are called, the stories and motives we design for them (without ever caring if these narratives are true.)

I know I keep repeating myself, but we are admonished in scripture to see all humans as created in God’s likeness. Meaning: God is somehow mysteriously connected with His children. Therefore, hating others, name calling, and vilifying are not simply acts against other humans they are also against God.

Brothers and sisters: this must stop! God has sent his son to save them, not just US. God has called us to be his ambassadors of reconciliation. Our tools: LOVE, kindness, understanding, bridgebuilding, generosity, hospitality,
and presence.

As ambassadors, we are also called to stand along side and represent. The folks who come to the Jesus Center looking for a path to wholeness, needing us to walk alongside them, to cheer them on, to remind them that they are God’s beloved child. These actions counteract the cruelty that they hear day in and day out that they are worthless.

One of the most difficult yet beautiful work we do is the reconciliation of mothers and children. Many women come to us having lost custody or lost touch with children. In collaboration with our colleagues at the County, we work to help them ready themselves and their homes to be reunify with those lost children. It is a hard path: so many barriers and challenges to overcome. And yet, with a lot of support, we see families reunited. This is God’s heart: to bring peace in broken places.

The sweetest experiences I’ve had in this job is when I stand up and proclaim God’s love for the poor: in conservative churches, liberal churches, banquets, city council meetings, Rotary and Soroptomist clubs. People deep down agree that we are all one: they are us. People understand that there is an intrinsic good in each person.

Now, ambassadors, it is our job to act out that belief!

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Joining with the staff and board of the Jesus Center this Christmas is one way to act from your understanding of God’s love for you, for the world, for our community. Supporting the work of the Jesus Center with a monetary gift this Christmas, is your way to incarnate the love God shares in Christ. Making a donation is not so unlike what the magi did traveling miles to honor God’s greatest act of love—sending his Son to reconcile all of creation to himself.

There is no greater work. You are a worthy peace-bringer in this broken, tired, divided community. God is greatly pleased when we join his work as ambassadors of peace to those who struggle the most.

Shalom,

Laura Cootsona
Executive Director

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