Written by Jennifer Keeney Scarr, On Earth Peace Board Member, pastor of the Trotwood Church of the Brethren in Ohio and reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Barrancabermeja, Colombia for the OEP Spring Newsletter. In response to the OEP value Jesus-Centered Spirituality.
Jesus is our teacher, our brother, our faithful friend.
Jesus is where our inspiration for peacebuilding holds it’s foundation.
Jesus is our center.
One of the most captivating stories about Jesus in the scriptures is the one often celebrated on Palm Sunday. Very publicly and loudly, Jesus marched into Jerusalem on the eve of Passover, a commemoration of the Jewish liberation from the bondage of slavery under Pharaoh. The Jews of Jesus’ time resonated deeply with this powerful story of their ancestors as they lived under the oppressive occupation in Rome. They longed for another Moses, a Messiah who would deliver them from Rome as Moses delivered them from Pharaoh. As Christians, we believe that Jesus was that Messiah. His method of salvation wasn’t the violent military victory expected but a daily commitment to kindness and compassion toward the overlooked and under-valued. To illustrate the kind of Messiah he would be, Jesus threw together a D.I.Y. nonviolent protest. With his people waving branches, and a donkey to carry him, Jesus marched into the heart of Jerusalem’s prestige and power. He identified the injustice of the system before him, illustrated by the tables upon tables of vendors and religious elites taking advantage of low-income people, travelers, and foreigners. Anger burned in Jesus’ belly and in a mighty symbolic, nonviolent act, he turned the tables over, upending the harmful systems at play if only for a day. With this action, he grabbed the attention of everyone in the courts and then began to teach another way of living.
On Earth Peace has long envisioned a world in Beloved Community, liberated from oppression, violence, and war. From it’s beginning in the 1970s, all the way into 2020, On Earth Peace has prioritized education for all ages toward that end. Staff members and friends of OEP have visited congregations and communities to help turn over the tables of unhealthy patterns in conflict, and have spoken truth to power both inside and outside the walls of our church. Through this dedication to Anti-racism and Anti-oppression practices, On Earth Peace continues to call us toward the same Beloved Community Jesus so tirelessly preached and modeled.
Each of these practices mentioned above are Jesus-centered spiritual practices; education and support for communities and leaders, speaking truth to power, and commitment to Anti-racism and Anti-oppression.
These practices are a few of the ways Jesus continues to save us as a community and culture today. They are deeply spiritual practices that continue to form our identity as people of faith and are expressions of the daily commitment to Jesus’ Beloved Community.
Jesus of Nazareth is who On Earth Peace continues to follow into the work of justice and peace.