By Conference Minister Diane Weible
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Our first Christmas when we lived in Japan was spent in Nagasaki. I still remember the Christmas Eve service in the Catholic Church near the peace pole where the bomb landed on August 9, 1945. I remember the feeling of being in that sanctuary, surrounded by more people than I had seen in any of the tiny churches we visited on Sundays from our home in Tokyo. Despite the large church and the many strangers packed into that space, the feeling I remember the most was a feeling of peace. In fact, while walking around the town during the day I also felt that same sense of peace permeating the streets where I walked.
Today is the 75th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and Sunday will be the 75th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki. We remember the human devastation perpetrated against these two communities—devastation that grew out of war and violence. And, then, 47 years later I was walking in that same place absorbing the peace that had replaced the violence of all those years ago. What hope do we find in communities that evolve from horrific violence to a place that embraces peace?
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Mastui spoke on the 75th anniversary, calling on the international community to unite against threats to humanity—whether they be nuclear weapons, a pandemic, or systemic racism and oppression.
“Civil society must reject self-centered nationalism and unite against all threats,” he said at the annual ceremony at Peace Memorial Park near Ground Zero, encouraging countries to come together to overcome both human-made and natural challenges.
As people of faith, we have such an important role in our country and in our world. We believe and trust in a God that calls for healing and the restoration of relationships. Our God invites us to look at ourselves and the world with eyes that seek places of injustice, violence, and oppression and work for healing and wholeness.
Our God compels us to look inside and understand the ways we must grow to be more ready and prepared for the work ahead. We start with ourselves and then we are better able to show up in the ways that the world needs us—ways that allow us to plant seeds of peace and then nurture them to grow into communities of love.
As Mayor Matsui said, there is no space for selfishness and nationalism in a world that requires a witness of hope, peace, and love for all people—for all people.