|Overcoming Violence: WCC Statements and Actions 1994-2000 (WCC, 2000, 130 p.)|
|Addresses of the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser|
Once again, at Christmas we hear the message of the angels who sing: Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to all in whom he delights (Luke 2:14). This was and is the announcement that a new era, the reign of the Prince of Peace, has begun.
We hear the message. It responds to our deepest longings but we still wait for its fulfilment. Who can count those who were killed during this year in wars and military confrontation, those who were massacred as defenceless victims of terrorism? More than ever the world seems to be held captive to the unending cycle of fighting and killing, of victory and revenge, of merciless competition for power, and of a culture of violence in which only the winner counts.
And yet, the reign of the Prince of Peace has begun. It does not make the headlines. It escapes the focus of TV cameras. It does not conform to the law that the winner takes all and can impose the terms of peace. The new era of peace which began with the birth of Jesus continues today among the little ones, those who are forgotten, excluded and lost. These are those whom God loves and in whom he delights. For, as Mary the mother of Jesus said, (God) has lifted up the lowly and has filled the hungry with good things (Luke 1:52f.).
Is this real, or is it wishful thinking? We may indeed need new eyes to discover the ways in which Gods reign of peace shows itself in our time. And there are examples, like parables, pointing to this different reality.
In August this year, the World Council of Churches launched a Peace to the City campaign as the initial focus of its Programme to Overcome Violence. The campaign is designed to make visible the efforts of those often unknown groups of women and men who dare to be peacemakers in the midst of a culture of violence. They live among us in our troubled cities, like Belfast and Boston, Rio and Colombo, Suva in Fiji, Durban and Kingston. They live and work among street children and urban gangs. They seek to mediate between ethnic groups, and protect minorities. They monitor police actions and help to improve run-down neighbourhoods.
Through their lives and actions, they help a culture of peace to emerge. These people of peace are signs that the reign of the Prince of Peace has begun. It is real. In this, todays peacemakers echo the Christmas message of the angels: Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to all in whom he delights.