Many, many years ago, when our kids were little, the piano tuner was in our house struggling to get our little baby grand up to pitch. I say struggle, because Marcia had her hands full. The kids were chasing, then fighting, and then one started crying. It was Christmas time. The tuner muttered, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”
I’m remembering that incident late on a Saturday night. I’ve just returned from the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility, one of several state prisons located in Jackson. Former board chairman Dan Rooks and I were there as featured speakers today, guests of their Chance for Life Chapter
To set the stage for my comments, I perhaps should make brief reference to this week’s happenings.
On the International level, another terrorist attack…Isis taking credit.
On the national level, a stunning defeat in Washington that left not only Republicans fighting Democrats, but Republicans fighting with each other.
On the state level, many constituents this week had been fighting with their congressmen.
On the local level, residents are fighting mad over how to handle the over-population of deer in our city.
In church circles, I’m aware of people so angry about the style of music in their worship that they’re thinking of making a switch.
It wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss personal issues, but I’m aware that some of our friends are in the midst of personal battles.
Not much peace. At any level.
In the midst of that, I drive to Jackson on a cloudy, rainy, cold day. And here’s what I find: 200 men---different races, different backgrounds, different faiths---gathered in an assembly, hoping to launch a 6-month peace initiative!
Last summer I was privileged to the deliver the keynote address at this same prison, when a group of men pledged to harness what they called the Divine Force of Peace for one month. The results in the prison were amazing. And so this time, the Chance for Life Chapter decided to go for a six-month stretch. Six months, for men serving time in prison, to restrain from fighting, bullying, arguing and causing problems…six months to see the other guy’s point of view, stressing forgiveness, kindness and compassion.
Before I was introduced, one of the leaders---explaining this dream, this goal---stated that as of today, more than 600 men have already signed the pledge! 600 men who are convinced that if peace starts with them, there’s no telling where it will spread.
Think we could learn from them?
I do. I did.
I may not even need a sermon tomorrow. Their testimony was a divine message, and I thank God for their initiative and their courage.