Passing the Peace Pipe

Peace. It is a loaded word these days amidst was and other international tensions, it seems an impossible ideal. Yet, as Christians, we are responsible for passing the peace pipe to everyone.

Wooden Cross with a red poppy in the centerMemorial Day is a day born out of the Civil War, was recognized by all states shortly after the end of the World War 1 and set as the last Monday in May in 1971. We set aside this day to honor all those men and women who have died serving in the Armed Forces.

It is a time to remember those who have given their lives so that we can continue to live in freedom. It has become a time of celebration with family gatherings and parades…prayers and political speeches…and waving flags. There will be the shouts of children…the volley of rifles…the sound of “Taps.”

We Remember…

As flags wave gently in the breeze and hot dogs fill the air with tantalizing smells, some will remember MORE than the freedoms we enjoy. Some will think of fathers and grandfathers…sons and brothers…uncles and nephews…even mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, and nieces. We will remember friends who answered the call and marched off to faraway places never to return.

Some of you remember a World War, the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America. Iraq and Afghanistan are the most recent “hot spots” where Americans gave their lives in the name of freedom.

For some of us, until September 11, “War” consisted of old movies and episodes of M.A.S.H. It was an unclear reality that existed only in the minds of the older generation. Some, however, remember the Battle of the Bulge, Pearl Harbor and the dropping of the first atomic bombs like it was yesterday. Still others remember Korea, QueSon or Pork Chop Hill. Many can recall what you were doing on September 11th when planes slammed into the Twin Towers, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

Today, the news is filled with reports of fighting in Afghanistan and between Israel and Palestine, Ukraine and Russia. Rumors of war run rampant across the face of the globe, and there is continual talk of weapons control and who has (or is getting) nuclear weapons. There is aggression, terrorism, hostility and misunderstanding creating tensions between nations and peoples. Internal tensions have been created by inflation, unemployment, COVID-19, high energy costs and a host of other social ills. In spite of all this, we, as Christians, need to heed this seventh lesson from our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount: Blessed…are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons (and daughters) of God.2

The Peace Pipe

Native American peace pipe clip artIn the earliest days of this nation, when warring tribes wanted to put an end to the hostility, the chiefs and warriors of each tribe would sit down together, passing the peace pipe. Smoking this earthen pipe together was a sign to their tribes (and to neighboring tribes) that these two nations were now at peace.

During the past couple of centuries, this practice has continued in a slightly altered form. Feuding families in the mountains would seal the end of their hostilities by passing a jug of moonshine. International fighting ends with an agreement signed by leaders of the embattled nations. Conflicts between labor and management end with a symbolic handshake. Disputes between friends and family members are terminated in a hug. Regardless of the form, the principle is the same – conflicts cease, agreement is reached, the peace pipe is passed.

We who call ourselves by Christ’s name are called to be passers of the peace pipe. The apostle John wrote these words: To as many received Him, He gave the authority to become the children of God, that is to those who believe in His name.3 The lesson of the Master in this Beatitude – those who are peacemakers are children of God. Therefore, the inverse must also be true – the children of God (those called by Christ’s name) are called to be peacemakers.

For most of us, however, when we think of a peacemaker, we tend to think we must be a national leader (or someone famous) in order to pass the peace pipe between nations. Most of us would be quick to point out that we don’t have the education, training, experience or even the physical stamina to undertake the grueling “shuttle diplomacy” that takes place in this modern era. And we would be right!

Do Something

group of people praying together for peaceBut, that does not relieve us of our Christian responsibility as a peacemaker in God’s world. We may not have the skills (or even the desire) to be a globe-hopping ambassador for peace, but we do have a responsibility to PRAY for peace. Paul reminded young Timothy (and the churches which also read and heard his letters) I urge that all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men – for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life…4

While the President may not call upon you or me to travel to Iran or Korea, Ukraine, Israel or Russia as an ambassador for peace, we should still do what we can to work for global peace:

  • write to our state and national representatives expressing our views and opinions about pending peace legislation
  • read and study about the nations in conflict and the nations with whom our country is dealing
  • join a group study on peace and our Christian responsibility in a conflict-torn world
  • encourage others to work for peace in our time.


Our responsibility to be a peace-make does not stop there, however, As  Christians endeavoring to be makers and maintainers of peace, we need to pass the peace pipe between groups of people as well as between nations. We should support groups and individuals that are trying to upgrade the level of living in other countries as well as our own – CROP, the Peace Corps, VISTA, church missionaries, the Red Cross, even Habitat for Humantiy. All of us can support them with our prayers as they undertake a gigantic task. We can support them with our gifts—financial, time, skills, services. We do not need to be a gifted orator or a skillful fund raiser. These groups and organizations need to envelope stuffers, telephone callers, and transportation people, too.

We are passing the peace pipe in yet another way when we give our support and encouragement and backing to national, state and even local groups that are working to reconcile the differences between groups separated by race, economics, age, sex, religion, or even handicapping conditions.

As children of God, we also need to “pass the peace pipe” between families – whether those families be blood relation, friends, or simply members of the same church or organization who are “on the outs” with each other. We must learn how to listen – really listen – to the hurts, fears, needs and frustrations of those around us. We need to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master by putting the other person first, learning to support without condemnation and love the sinner while hating the sin.

Part of our Christian responsibility is to pray for one another – to encourage one another. In the words of our Lord Jesus, Love one another as I have loved you.5

Make Peace With God

Before we can be a peace maker (or a peace keeper) within our own life groups, we need to pass the pipe of peace with God. We must be reconciled and at peace with God ourselves before we can pass on a semblance of peace to anyone else. We need to learn to obey the psalmist exhortation to be still and know that I am God.6

We must learn how to be a peace with ourselves and our corner of the world. By believing in, trusting in, leaning on the power and authority and strength of God, we must learn to relax – to “let go and let God.” The Serenity Prayer of St. Francis puts it well:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

St. Francis of Asissi
Prayer of Serenity

We live in an emotionally up-tight world – a world filled with fear, tension, suspicion, anger and self-centeredness. It is a world often characterized by roller coaster moodiness, pushing and shoving, “me first” selfishness, and “I-don’t-want-to-get-involved” apathy. Relaxation, rest, peace – even inner peace – are scarce commodities. Yet, as children of God, we can rest in Him – changing those things we can change, accepting those things we cannot, and letting the rest go.

Accept Others

A third step in passing the peace pipe between God and ourselves is in learning to accept others – as they are. All too often we accept people “conditionally” – we accept them with the unspoken understanding that they will conform to our standards and expectations. When they don’t, we become angry and filled with conflict.

I cannot change anybody – except (maybe) myself. I cannot change you, even if I wanted to. Only God can do that. Jesus never tried to change any of His followers. He accepted them where they were, as they were, and (often) in spite of  what they were. And He loved them – all of them – enough to go to the cross. He died for the proud Pharisee and the humble tax collector alike, for pompous Pilate and the woman taken in adultery, for Peter the denier and Judas the betrayer, for the Russian who thinks the Communist state and its leaders are God and for you and me in this politically free country.

Christians MUST Make Peace

He calls on us – you and me who call ourselves by the name of Christ – to be the makers and maintainers of peace – in ourselves, within our families, among our friends, between groups that think they’re superior and groups who feel quite the opposite, between races and classes and even nations.

The Apostle Paul put it this way to the Corinthians: If anyone is in Christ, He/she is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ, reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us (you and me) the message of reconciliation. So, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.7

Jesus declared blessed…are the makers and maintainers of peace (the reconcilers) for they shall be called the sons (and daughters) of God.2

Let’s pass the peace pipe!!

Scriptures Used Today

  1. Matthew 5:1-12
  2. Matthew 5:9 (Amplified)
  3. John 1:12
  4. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (RSV)
  5. John 15:12b
  6. Psalm 46:10
  7. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

Maple UMC Calendar

March 2023

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  • Adult Sunday School
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