Sermon Sept. 18, 2016 "As the Birds Fill the Air" Dedication of Peace Pole

Meditation: As the Birds Fill the Air
Date: Sept. 18, 2016 Charter Sunday and Dedication of the Peace Pole
Scriptures: Isaiah 11:6-9 and Matthew 5:1-10
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

Noah Strycker spent a year traveling around the world visiting 41 countries in order to identify 6000 different species of birds to set a Guiness Book of World Record. He travelled over 100,000 miles. Strycher spoke about his year-long quest at Eckerd College last week. We heard about all kinds of birds, beginning with the penguin, and all kinds of habitats. We also heard about all kinds of people in many different circumstances and habitats. Literally around the world, Strycher found people not only willing, but eager to help him and host him.

This little vignette is a reminder that not only are there birds all over the world of infinite variety, on all continents, in vast profusion, but there are people all over the world. People who are good. People who desire to be helpful. People who care about others, nature, and the environment. People who are, essentially, living and working for peace in their day to day lives.

Though climates and cultures may differ drastically, people pretty much all over the world want to live in peace. They want to have what they need to live, help others, and make the world a better place. People of all religions of the world are working to promote peace. People from north to south and east to west value dignity, respect, and self determination. We want to be involved in constructive, meaningful work, have loving relationships, and engage with beauty, nature, and the arts. We want to take joy in life. We are, fundamentally, a peace loving species.

On top of that, there are millions of people the world over, who are very intentionally working for peace through constructively developing nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts between people and nations. There are millions of people working to reduce violence in every day life. There are students being trained every year in schools in peer mediation. There are institutes and foundations dedicated to building a more peaceful world.

There are countless people working, volunteering, and giving millions upon millions of dollars to create more peace in the world by promoting healthcare, education, the arts, environmental protection, and empowerment of those with limited resources. These things are the things that make for peace. Peace is not just about not hitting or not shooting or not bombing anyone. Peace is about making life for all stable and meaningful with opportunities for creativity, self determination, and service.

Are there some people and groups that trust violence, believe in violence, use violence, and promote violence for their own interests? Are there people that work against the cultivation of peace? Yes. Such people and groups exist. But they are the minority; maybe the vocal minority but the minority nonetheless. There are anomalies in every species. But I believe the vast majority of people on this precious planet desire peace and are willing to work for it in ways large and small.

We remember Jesus for saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.” We believe that all people are children of God, so all can be peacemakers.

Noah Strycher found wonderful, peaceful people around the world willing to go to great lengths to help him with his birding adventure. This is a reminder that just as there are birds all over the world, there are people of peace in each and every land. Take time to notice the birds around you. They are there each and every day. Chirping and warbling. Flitting and soaring. May they be reminders of the people of every shape and hue the world over who are working for peace: the countless doves of peace that inhabit this holy habitat. Amen.

This meditation was followed by people in the congregation blessing one another as peace makers. Congregants placed their hands on the shoulder of another and said, “Bless you, peacemaker and child of God.”

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