About 9 years ago I became a Mennonite and entered into the peace church tradition. For many Mennonites the Sunday before Remembrance Day is Peace Sunday. Buttons are handed out with the slogan “to remember is to work for peace.” Some people wear them as an addition to their poppy, others as an alternative. The idea is to widen the discussion around peacemaking and who needs to be included in our remembrance. In addition to the soldiers sacrifice we remember the civilian casualties the conscientious objectors and the peace activists. We remember our dead and our “enemy’s” dead. We remember that Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers” and “love your enemies.” We remember that not all wars happen far away. We remember civil rights champions, indigenous land defenders, and environmental protectors. We also join in because peace is not the absence of the bad stuff it is the active stepping into what should be.
As I think about all these ideas of peace it also makes me think of the spirit of the city where I live. Something unique is happening in Hamilton, churches are working together. Ministries like GOHOP & True City have been living into a spirit of peace by putting aside the differences between churches and working together to learn from each other. This is not the norm in other communities. What is different in Hamilton?
It might be the land. Geography matters and some locations are “thin places” where there is a special connection to an aspect of the divine. In Hamilton that connection is tied to peace and sharing. Our city falls under the “dish with one spoon” wampum agreement. This “wampum was created to bind the Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to the Great Law of Peace. The Dish represents the shared land, while One Spoon reinforces the idea of sharing and peace.” (McMaster Land Acknowledgements Guide)
Churches and Christians who wonder why they have found this spiritual resonance with sharing and peace have tapped into the legacy of the land they live on. The Creator has been whispering a spirit of peace here for a long time. Now there is still a lot of work to do (especially in the area of truth & reconciliation) but that is where all these narratives come together because “to remember is to work for peace!”