Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
This vow reminds us that what we do (or do not do) impacts others; near and far, in the present and future. It encourages us to reflect on the deeper meaning of the words, and of our commitment to make them a reality, knowing that today’s work in this realm is a foretaste of tomorrow’s promises in God’s kingdom.
For Christians, justice is not contained within the confines of the legal system. Justice challenges us to give to others what they are due, and to expect the same in return; because God has given us the Law. Justice does not presume that life will be fair (we know better!) but it does presume that life can be better for us all when we follow God’s law. Justice is not about winners and losers, haves and have-nots; it’s about God’s people giving (and receiving) to build up the community. We are, in this vow, committing to recognise and embrace acts of justice that we see, and to identify and confront acts of injustice we see.
In On Peace, Albert Einstein wrote that “[p]eace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order.” The message of true peace is a powerful one, it needs to be heard and shared, it is worth working towards, it lives in a faithful hope that justice is coming. For most of us here in Canada, we thankfully do not know what it’s like to live without peace; our responsibility is to pray and work for those who promote peace and justice.
We are called to be aware of how our actions impact the lives and dignity of others, both directly and indirectly, intentionally and unintentionally; we cannot be ignorant. A cheap t-shirt may mean a Bangladesh factory worker trapped in fire; a toy made in China may mean child labour; gold jewelry may mean cyanide pollution in a Philippines river. Just as we would not impose such treatment on people we know, so we should not impose it upon those we don’t know; with knowledge and care we can choose dignity over exploitation and contempt.
(For some ideas and knowledge of Canadian Anglicans striving for a truly just, healthy, and peaceful world, in Canada and abroad, look into the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund: www.pwrdf.org)
Have mercy upon us, your children.
Forgive us our inadvertent support of things that prevent peace.
Forgive us our petty complaints when we feel we have been treated unfairly.
Forgive us our indifference to those who have no peace in mind, heart, or body.
Have mercy on us, your children.
Help us to remember all your people in our prayers.
Help us to make informed decisions that our actions will help to build your kingdom
Help us to celebrate the great dignity we enjoy in our culture
Holy One, Have mercy on us, your children.
Guide us to live into the hope and promise of redemption that only you can offer us.