The Fruit of Peace
Aiming for peace
by Helen Bryant (Revised, originally published in 2010)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore the concept of peace.
Preparation and materials
Have available the following images of peace and the means to display them during the assembly:
- Winston Churchill proclaiming peace after the declaration of the end of the Second World War, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ybcsng5x
- a dove, available at: https://tinyurl.com/oenx6h2
- a peace sign, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y6vxn76m
Have available the ‘Playing For Change’ video and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 3.52 minutes long and is available at: http://playingforchange.com/
Further information about the International Day of Peace is available at: http://internationaldayofpeace.org/
Show the images of Winston Churchill proclaiming peace after the declaration of the end of the Second World War, a dove and a peace sign.
Point out that although many people talk about the need for peace, it is actually very difficult to maintain peace.
The Bible speaks about the ‘fruit of the Spirit’. Christians believe that this refers to the attributes that should be seen in their lives if they are following God. There are nine fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Most people would agree that these are good qualities to have in all of our lives. However, peace is hard to have, keep and maintain.
We can view peace in various ways, but this assembly will consider peace in ourselves, the conflict we may have with others and the wider search for peace within our society and the world.
Let’s start by looking at what Ralph Waldo Emerson, a nineteenth-century American philosopher and poet, said: ‘Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.’
This is a good place to start for talking about peace, because to gain peace is to end disagreements, hostilities and war. However, to live in a time of peace is something that no generation has ever really known.
At the time, it was thought that the First World War was the war to end all wars. However, just over 20 years later, the world was in the throes of another war.
We see pictures daily of wars in different parts of the world and sadly, terrorist acts have become more frequent closer to home. It is easy to wonder if there will ever be peace.
However, alongside war comes peace: they naturally go together. In his novel, War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy tells the story of five aristocratic Russian families against the backdrop of periods of war and periods of peace. He shows us how each family and the other characters within the novel change and develop during those times. We are very similar. It takes effort to create reconciliation and calm after conflict. In our own lives, we need to make peace with each other after we have had fights or disagreements.
Peace can be seen as something to pass on. Sometimes, in Christian worship, one section of the Holy Communion service encourages the congregation to ‘offer one another a sign of peace’. They are encouraged to shake hands with one another, or perhaps hug one another, and pass on the peace of Christ by saying ‘Peace be with you’.
Jesus himself was a well-known pacifist (someone who believes in non-violence). When it came to his arrest on the night before his death, he went freely, without having to be forced. Jesus’ companions were ready to fight for him, but he said, ‘Those who live by the sword, die by the sword’ (Matthew 26.52), echoing the belief that if you live by violence, it will surely follow you.
In Jesus’ eyes, peace was so important that he thought that those who strove for peace were blessed. In the Sermon on the Mount, he said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matthew 5.9). Here, we see the hope that one day, there will be peace because those who use peace in their lives and spread it to others will benefit. It is sometimes easier to retaliate and hit back, but it takes self-control to walk away and take the peaceful route. It takes a deep breath and maybe counting to ten to leave the name-calling or nasty comments behind. By maintaining a peaceful response, you place yourself above those who would be violent to you.
World peace is an admirable aim. The International Day of Peace takes place on 21 September every year. It was established in 1981 by the United Nations and has been observed around the world ever since. The day encourages people to commit to peace above all other differences.
Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroeke are the co-founders of an organisation called Playing For Change, which tries to bring peace by uniting people around the world through music. What better way to bring people together in peace, to understand one another, than through a common denominator: the power of music?
Time for reflection
Watch the ‘Playing For Change’ video at: http://playingforchange.com/ and see if you can feel the wish for peace that comes from it.
Please note that several Playing For Change videos are available if you select the Videos tab at the top of the web page.
As Emerson said, peace will be attained through understanding, and what a great way to understand one another!
May there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.
Help me to be slow to judge and quick to create peace.
‘The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace)’ (Come and Praise, 147)
‘Stand by me’ from the Playing For Change website, available at: http://tinyurl.com/yc73xlc8