I love the word that Mathew uses as he quotes Jesus saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt. 5:9). He combines the Greek words for “peace” and “maker/poet,” and comes up with a term that literally means “poets of peace.” He calls them blessed.
What does it mean to be “poets of peace”? Poets do the hard work of bringing together different, often clashing, elements and crafting them into a work of art. They rely on metaphor, which is the combination of two unlike items. “My hope is a young sequoia,” or “you are the salt of the earth”; hope is not literally a tree, nor are people a specific mineral, but the comparison brings insight. A good poem unites unlike parts and results in a new harmony.
Isn’t that what peace-makers do? The hard work of reconciliation brings together people, ethnic groups or even nations that clash and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, creates a new community. Cacophony transforms into harmony, and God’s people sing a new song. But just as a writer will sometimes take a long time to produce the final version of a poem, the labor of the poets of peace also requires patience, persistence and hard work over time.
Jesus is our model. Paul tells us in Ephesians that Jesus is our peace, that he alone made (yes, it’s the poetry word again!) the two warring factions to become one family (a specific reference to first century Jews and gentiles). As we follow Jesus, the Master Poet of peace, we become peacemakers like him. Blessed, indeed.
Contributed by Nancy Thomas, North Valley Friends