Building a culture of peace

As we enter this new millennium
we reaffirm our abiding conviction
     that the God of Scripture manifests
     special concern for the cries of the poor:

Of the marginalized, the outcast, indeed
all who have no access to the table.
     We also believe that if the people
     of God are to be faithful to our calling

We will locate ourselves in compassionate proximity
     to those whose lives are battered, bruised and broken.

We do so not as an ethical demand
or a work of righteousness
     but as a spiritual discipline.

For we believe that God’s presence and voice
are most easily recognized and understood
     in situations where life has been abandoned

And hope is in retreat,
     where death is on the prowl and despair rules.

We testify to the Spirit’s plea to
the church and to the world:
     Disarm your hearts!

Repent of your habits of violence and injustice;
     return to the One who bore you in mercy.

Rebuild ruined neighborhoods;
     restore marginalized peoples.

Resume the politics of forgiveness
     and an economy of manna.*

Revive an ecological relationship with the created order,
     reject the escalating culture of violence,

and renew your commitment to
     building a culture of peace.

            We lift our hearts to you, O Christ.
           Make us instruments of your peace.

©Ken Sehested @ This poem excerpted from the January 2000 statement from the International Baptist Peace Conference in Melbourne, Australia, drafted by Ken Sehested. *Sufficiency.