Campus Ministry Matters

Peace is not a seasonal affair

This week alone, we’ve seen two media covered acts of violence across the world. I’d already had enough when I listened to what had happened in Sydney on Monday, but yesterday’s life shattering altercation in Pakistan set me over the edge. And it reminded me of an image I often see on my way to work each day.

While driving, just off the freeway, stands an ordinary business building which once a year uses golden colored garland to write “Peace” on the front of the building. It’s pretty easy to see as a driver and you couldn’t miss it if you happened to work in the building. I appreciate it. Peace is of course is what the Christmas season is all about. But even though peace is what the holiday season is all about, I wonder about why we take down those words after the holiday season. Why will I get up in January and February and on and on and probably just turn off the TV when I hear of another act of hatred. Why is Peace just a seasonal affair it seems?

For a clearer example of this, Christmas Eve 2014 is the 100th Anniversary of the famous Christmas Truce of 1914, where German and French soldiers stopped shooting during the infamous trench warfare period of World War I, instead singing together in unison from their war plagued foxholes. But the war continued, and thousands more died in those very trenches. And on and on it has gone even until today. We might call for Peace during the Christmas time, at least corporately, but peace often seems like a fleeting thing most every other time of the year.

Working on a college campus, there are always tensions amongst groups and individuals. Our recent media coverage of rape culture is only a drop in the bucket of other issues that exist. As a campus minister, I often see the tension amongst religious groups. There are groups who have no interest in other faith traditions, while there are those who are actively reaching out. It seems so perfect that the university campus ministry be the place where peace amongst peoples, religious or not, might have a chance to truly practice peace all year long. If we can teach peace toward each other at the place where identity takes shape, then couldn’t it change the course of things for decades to come? Couldn’t we come to have a better understanding about each other and ourselves if our campuses were places where hatred and violence went away, where division was confronted with dialogue and not with violence.

This year, I will continue to hope for peace. But I also hope that the building I pass everyday might keep those words up not just during the holiday season, but for the whole year. We could learn a lot from remembering that Peace is not just what Christmas is all about, but instead what life is about.