“Let Peace Begin With Me”

Let there be peace on earth—and let it begin with me. I attended a Unity church service yesterday, where we closed the service by standing in a circle holding hands and singing that song. I’d like to close—or maybe open—every Peacemaker seminar with that. We all decry the lack of “peace on earth” but we blame it on others. It’s so obvious how other people are preventing peace on earth. But Jesus called us hypocrites for spotlighting others’ faults while neglecting our own. This song reminds us to “begin with me.”

The author of those lyrics, Jill Jackson Miller, had a troubled childhood after her mother died when she was 3, moving from one foster home to another, and never felt loved. After her husband divorced her, she tried to commit suicide, but when she didn’t succeed, she says, “I knew for the first time unconditional love–which God is. God is unconditional love. You are totally loved, totally accepted, just the way you are. In that moment I was not allowed to die, and something happened to me which is very difficult to explain. I had an eternal moment of truth, in which I knew I was loved, and knew I was here for a purpose.” Jill and her second husband, Sy Miller, wrote this song in 1955 after being inspired by a message that peace, to become a manifest reality, must be in the heart of each individual.

As we enter the Christmas season, we will hear many songs, and send many cards, that speak of “peace on earth.” I want to silently add, “and let it begin with me.” Even though I teach peacemaking—or perhaps because I teach peacemaking—I keep encountering situations where I choose whether to “let peace begin with me,” by taking responsibility for my wrongdoing, by overlooking minor offenses, by reaching out in love. Ken Sande’s book, The Peacemaker, is all about how to “let peace begin with me,” and each time I teach its principles, I’m reminded of my obligation to be a peacemaker–and of how difficult that is, apart from the power of Christ at work within me.

May we all focus on our own responsibility to “let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

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