Yesterday, my co-workers and I stopped what we were doing, gathered around our TV, and waited for President Trump to make a public statement on Iran. We were hoping he wouldn’t go off script. We were hoping we wouldn’t go to war. It was incredibly stressful, and I carried that stress downstairs with me to the chapel for an ecumenical prayer service for peace.
In the chapel of the United Methodist Building, the light filters through the leafy evergreen trees outside the windows. As the dappled light came through the windows, we read scripture and prayed for peace. I felt the tension unwind a bit.
This unwinding does not change the imminent danger Iranian civilians and American troops were facing this week. My stress over a war with Iran is considerably less than the stress people with family members in Iran or in the military were facing this week. My stress is nowhere close to the stress and fear Iranian and Iraqi citizens have been forced to face as a result of this conflict. Unwinding does not change the tremendous amount of work that must be done.
However, taking a breather gives enough room for some light to seep in and reminds us that, in the week after epiphany, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5). The darkness did not, and will not, and must not overcome the light.
I follow Jesus, a brown-skinned man from Roman-occupied Palestine, who as a child was a political refugee in Egypt. And Jesus is the man who said, “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). My God calls us to make peace with one another, to see his likeness in the people we are told should be our enemies (spoiler: they’re not our enemies). This creator calls us to seek space in our lives where light can grow. This light is what will fuel us as we push back the darkness and the hate, together.