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Praying for Perfect Peace

Praying for Perfect Peace

Throughout the world people are yearning for peace. And not just stability in some areas and war in others—what we are really looking for might be called “perfect peace.”

This blog entry was published on  July 7, 2014 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel written by Don Alusic.

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Praying for Perfect Peace

 

Call to action to religious and political leaders

This blog entry was published on Sunday, December 13, 2015 in The Telegraph in Nashua, NH.  In this article the author calls for concerted action based on peaceful inclusiveness and love to welcome all faiths and especially Syrian refuges and American Muslims in the highest ideals of our faith and of our country

 

As minister to an interfaith community, I am increasingly concerned – even alarmed – at what I am hearing from those who would unilaterally claim to represent our most integral national and religious values. Alarmed because what they say appears antithetical to all I have understood and held dear.

At a time when we have been called to rise and represent the best of what we are as a nation, to minister to one another in the name of goodness and mercy, we, a largely Christian nation, appear to have faltered, succumbing to a siege of rhetoric driven by fear and divisiveness.

To the many Syrian refugees desperately seeking shelter from terror, just as the cold of winter is settling in, please know that while some might close our borders to you, many of us would not. While you may see some avert their gaze and turn away, there are those of us who would welcome the opportunity to see you, know you, to serve you, to help alleviate your suffering in any way we could.

To my fellow American Muslims, know that we stand with you and would welcome the opportunity for dialogue to learn and to work together to highlight that which unites us, not divides us. We owe you and the Syrian refugees, our brothers and sisters all, our deepest apology and we owe our God even more – our most humble accountability.

Sadly, it appears we have forgotten we are a nation founded on the backs of immigrants. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. And, sadder still, some claiming to represent Christian values appear to have put aside the most fundamental teaching of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34) and to have disregarded completely his charge in Matthew 25:31-40: “For when I was hungry you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

I have long been a proponent of the separation of church and state. But, that was before the political arena became the expressed platform for one particular religious ideology breeding exclusion and polarization. Religious leaders: Catholic and Protestant Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, and all others wishing to participate, I call on us to join together in a show of multi-lateral unity to reclaim and reaffirm our fundamental values of inclusion and tolerance.

Political leaders: Gov. Hassan, Sens. Ayotte and Shaheen, Reps. Guinta and Kuster, we invite you to stand with us to explore ways the common values expressed across faith traditions can be protected.

Perhaps, just perhaps, New Hampshire could become the first in the nation not just to vote for our next president but to lead a concerted movement to bring people, from all faith traditions, together to engage in interfaith dialogue and understanding.

Perhaps, by sitting with one another, listening to one another, a common bond could be created to help heal the scars of hatred, discrimination and prejudice currently being perpetrated. And, perhaps, just in doing so, we could begin to reclaim the very values upon which this nation was founded.

Lest you think such a challenge naive – or worse yet, impossible – recall the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in “Loving Your Enemies,” The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.

Will we be strong enough? Committed enough? Unwavering enough to stand for the only truth capable of setting us all free – that we all are called to inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love – even as we strive to live together in one nation, under God, indivisible, offering liberty and justice to all.

By The Rev. Stephanie Rutt

The Rev. Stephanie Rutt serves as presiding minister of the Tree of Life Interfaith Temple in Amherst. She is the author of several books on spirituality and interfaith curricula and is the creator of the Tree of Life Interfaith Seminary. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree at Andover Newton Theological School.

 

Finding gratitude in this summer’s Market Basket situation

This blog entry was published on Saturday, October 11, 2014 in The Telegraph in Nashua, NH.  In this article the author feels gratitude for the peaceful resolution of a conflict that disrupted the community for many weeks.

In New England this summer, we experienced a period of economic disruption unlike anything that has happened in recent years. As we return to things as usual, I would like to acknowledge what I consider to be the presence of the Divine or God in the harmonious outcome.

 

As I expect you recall, when one board member of the Market Basket board had a change of heart, this allowed one of the two long-feuding cousins, Arthur S., to remove the other cousin, Arthur T. (also known at Artie T.), as CEO of the chain of 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine with around 25,000 employees and reportedly $4.6 billion in sales in 2013.

 

A massive revolt by store employees and customers followed that was ongoing after a month with no end in sight. Every store that I passed had 15-20 people standing on the edge of the busy road urging a boycott of the store unless the former CEO was reinstated. The stores resembled ghost towns, with few cars in the parking lots, few customers inside and greatly reduced stock on the shelves. Although I had never really shopped at Market Basket, in spite of strong urging by a number of my friends, I remember honking in support because it was easy to do as I drove by.

 

At one point, the governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts wrote a joint letter to the board imploring for a return of “economic peace.” This was a call to action for me, and I started praying for peace in this situation.

 

It started with turning to the Bible and the first chapter of Genesis, where it affirms that God created the entire universe and everything in it, including man. Then “God saw every thing that he had made and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Next, I considered the Lord’s Prayer, where it states, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In my view, this heaven is the very good creation from Genesis.

 

I also thought about a statement from Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, who states, “The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue – ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ – obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 279). This conflict at Market Basket appeared to have many elements of strife, such as long-standing grudges, revenge, discord and acrimony. I held to the idea that God was the only power operating in this situation in spite of the appearance otherwise.

 

The disruption continued another week. Then, it was announced that a deal had been reached for Artie T. to buy the outstanding shares of stock and return as CEO. This lead to great rejoicing on the part of customers and employees.

 

In a speech to a number of his employees at the company’s headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass., Artie T. said, “Seeing you all here today is like seeing little piece of heaven on earth,” which struck an immediate chord with my prayer. He added, “And not a Greek tragedy!” or human actions leading to an unhappy or unfortunate ending.

 

This is indeed where it was headed, as bankruptcy and the complete disappearance of the company seemed like the only other viable option. I would like to add my gratitude and rejoicing for the harmonious outcome of this situation. As a result, I have now joined the legion of happy and loyal Market Basket shoppers.

By Don Alusic who lives in Amherst, NH

God’s love helps Brookline woman make sense of Amherst tragedy

This blog entry  was published on Saturday, September 27, 2014 in The Telegraph in Nashua, NH,  submitted by Laurie Toupin.  In this article the author clearly finds a peaceful sense in an overarching  love.

The Brookline community lost a beloved teacher at the Captain Samuel Douglass Academy elementary school last week. She was allegedly murdered by her son, who then turned the gun on himself. No one is sure of the motive, nor does it really matter at this point.

Elizabeth Trombly was a wonderful, kind soul whose life was devoted to helping the students of our community. She was always ready with a warm smile and a nurturing, motherly spirit. She will be missed by many.

No matter what one’s religious conviction or affiliation, everyone struggles to make sense out of these situations and find a solution that will at least bring a moment of peace.

When I am confronted by such a tragedy, I find myself turning to a higher power, which I call God, who offers a sense of love that enfolds and comforts not only those who are left behind, but, I am sure, those who have gone on as well.

I like to hold to a letter that a woman named Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of a religion named Christian Science, wrote to one of her students who had just lost her husband:

“Your dear husband has not passed away from you in spirit; he never died, only to your sense; he lives and loves and is immortal. Let this comfort you dear one, and you will find rest in banishing the sense of death, in cherishing the sense of life and not death. Your dear husband is as truly living to-day as he ever lived, and you can find rest and peace in this true sense of Life” (from “Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer,” Fettweis and Warneck, pg. 219).

Sometimes, it may be hard to feel or recognize a higher power’s presence and help, especially in the face of irrational human actions – since this death, which has left many in the Brookline community in shock, is only the most recent in a series of similar situations that seem to be affronting American culture.

These situations force such questions as: How do we detect those who may need help before they hurt themselves and others? How do we help them? How do we help the families of the one who has been diagnosed?

The only answer that comes to my mind is love: love that goes beyond ourselves to first notice, then actually reach out to those who are struggling and need help.

But this isn’t a love that we need to cultivate. The Bible says we are all made in the image and likeness of God. It also says in 1 John 4:16 that “God is love.”

And if God is love, and we are His image, then we also are capable of expressing and feeling a higher sense of love that blesses everyone with whom we come into contact.

Mrs. Trombly lived this love through her interactions with all the children and teachers and parents with whom she worked.

Even her son – who, from all accounts, was intelligent and good-hearted but had fallen upon hard times – was loved “unconditionally” by his mother.

When tragedy happens, nobody can make sense of it. There is no rhyme or reason. Evil has no face, no purpose, no rational motive.

But there is something that does make sense, especially to those left behind – that is a sense of love that never dies. A love that heals all hurts – the love of God, which fills all space and consciousness.

Love won’t bring her back to us physically, but God’s love is able to comfort those who were touched by her so that her life may be celebrated and remembered.

May we continue to feel and express that love which she lived.

In the words of a hymn from the Christian Science hymnal, #30:

Fed by Thy love divine we live,

For Love alone is Life;

And life most sweet, as heart to heart

Speaks kindly when we meet and part.

 

Prayer Warriors Make a Difference

When a community is facing a challenge such as homelessness, we may think of a host of possible solution approaches.  Examples include reporting on the situation in the media to bring attention and focus to the problem, developing shelters for the homeless, bring in more law enforcement resources to enforce ordinances, and developing organizations that can provide or coordinate resources to help move the homeless into a more productive role in society.

Another approach that became known as the Prayer Warriors proved effective as the Jointly-Maintained Downtown Christian Science Reading Room in Sacramento,  California found out over the past couple of years.  What began, on a cold October day, as a visit by a group of ladies from a nearby Christian Science Senior residential facility became this healing prayer team.

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A Beginning!

Hi, this is the first entry on this blog. Please leave stories, experience relating to seeing peace come to yourself, your family, your community, your country or our world.

Don