“We will be people of peace, welcoming, offering hope and a place you can stand.”
These words echoed through my heart as I hunched over the Delta flight tray, scribbling away on the back of a thin napkin. Knowing we were going to be gathering, as a community, to host a solidarity vigil on behalf of those affected by the Quebec mosque shooting, as well as the many refugees currently displaced in the world, I felt a song rising up in me. A song for us. A song for our Valley.
And this week, we hosted that candlelight vigil of solidarity, standing as a community to declare who we are and who we will be. As the Erickson Covenant Church, we did not host this vigil as a Christian prayer service. Rather, we hosted our community, gathering as a mix of faiths or no faith at all, holding a variety of political perspectives, with an array of ideas and passions, and yet all unified in this one thing: as the Creston Valley, we will be a welcoming community of peace, open-hearted and hospitable, shunning violence and seeking understanding.
As Christians, we seek peace as an expression of Who we follow, the Prince of Peace, the One who laid his life down for all. As Jesus-followers, we are called to care for those who are displaced, to love those who are often seen as “enemies”, to welcome the stranger and mourn with those who mourn–to make room in our lives for others. And as the church of Jesus, we have been commissioned to be peace-makers, holding our own arms open, inviting people to consider the way of peace as the way of life.
On this chilly, snowy Tuesday, following the most epic snow day the Kootenays has experienced in many years, over 50 Creston Valley residents gathered to reflect, to pray, to listen and to sing. Chief Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band told us an ancient, local story celebrating diversity as a strength; he also sang for us a victory song of his people. Linda Price, on behalf of the Creston Refugee Committee, shared about the good work of hospitality going on right here in our Valley, to make a home for refugees among us (we have welcomed multiple families over the years). And I closed our vigil, sharing words from a Muslim friend of mine in the wake of the Quebec shooting and hosting two times of silent prayer and reflection (one for the Muslim community; another for the refugees of the world). After offering a prayer to the Father of us all and in the name of Jesus, I sang the song posted below, written for our community. I leave you with that today. (The full lyrics are posted below).
People of Peace
People of Peace (Tom Greentree)
Who will we, who will we be?