Yearning For Peace
On Friday night eating ice cream Steve Nicholes, the head of Word of Life's Bible Institute in South Korea, shared with me about an African American pastor in the Philadelphia area. "Dave, he's one of my closest friends and has come to minister with us here in Korea. Our students love him, but he also comes over to get relief from the constant threat of murder in the neighborhood where he serves back in the U.S. A shooting is almost unheard of in South Korea and long walks without fear are a special gift." Steve then went on to share his firsthand experience with his friend back in the U.S. "On furlough I drove up to Philadelphia from Virginia to spend some personal time with my pastor friend. When we drove into his driveway, I got ready to open the door. My friend grabbed my arm, 'I know it sounds crazy, but we can't walk to my front door from here. We need to run.'" Steve shook his head. "He wasn't kidding. A member of his friend's church at the convenience store up the street was shot that week."
Escalating, murderous violence brought the judgment of the flood, and later in Israel's history the psalmist began a series of songs the Jews would sing as they went up to Jerusalem with a poem that focused on a country where life had become a war zone. In his time Meshech and Kedar were wild, violent places, like the wild west after the Civil War. The psalmist cries out to the Lord about the violence he was facing,
"Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war." - Psalm 120: 6-7
LORD, my brothers and sisters at Emmanuel in Charleston demonstrated the power of forgiveness over the power of ruthless murder, murder carried out in response to the kind of lies and deception this Psalm cries out against. Prayer, love, and unity displayed by Jesus' family in Charleston showed the strength to love, a power greater than the anarchy and retaliation we have seen repeatedly in other cities.
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