I purchased this picture when I was in Pittsburgh for General Conference in 2004 taking a Candler course. It says,
“Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.”
The picture says it’s “An Old Irish Prayer,” but using the internet I traced it back to the Iona Community. Iona is a tiny and beautiful Hebridean island off the west coast of Scotland, cradle of Christianity in Scotland, where in 563AD the Irish monk Columba (Columkille) established a monastic settlement that evangelised large parts of Scotland and the north of England and became an important centre of European Christianity. In the Middle Ages it became the site of a Benedictine abbey, and over the centuries it has attracted many thousands of people on their own pilgrim journeys. I have not been to Iona, but I’ve always wanted to take a pilgrimage there.
As a campus minister, I took 3 campuses of students on pilgrimages to the United Methodist Seminar Program at the UN Church Center Building. The New York Times wrote an article “Church Peace Center is Started on the East Side” in 1962 and its primary purpose was to give access to the U.N. to other faith communities and nongovernmental organizations working for human rights, development and peace. Way back when I first started taking students there, you could see the different agencies like Oxfam and Church World Service in the elevator on different floors.
We did seminars on interreligious dialogue, human trafficking, race and urban poverty, gentrification, immigration, intimate partner violence, and art, spirituality and calling. Our seminar designers had informative panels, exercises that made the students think out of their comfort zone, and chapels that dove into texts to start the day that gave a Biblical lens to each topic.
It was not just any ordinary chapel. It’s on the ground floor of the building, founded, operated, and owned by the United Methodist Church, as a Christian and interfaith space. On the outside of the Chapel is a large work, “Man’s Search for Peace” and it shows human-like shapes around a large eye-like form, but on the inside it’s all stained glass. It was like the church with its eye on the United Nations making sure they acted in a just and peaceful manner. On one side of their wall there’s etched into the building, the words of Isaiah 2:4,
“He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.”
Located in the center of the chapel, Jesus’ words when he was riding into Jerusalem, weeping as he exclaimed, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace.” This verse, Luke 19:42, is etched into the wooden Bible stand. These words in the heart of the chapel serve as a constant reminder of why the faith community is present; to advance God’s peace in our hearts and in the world.
May we have the Deep Peace that abiding in Jesus provides. May we share with the world the peace that the Prince of Peace can only give. The Deep Peace that the world so desperately needs as we all face trials or tribulations of many kinds. We can lean into the safe arms of Jesus, our sure harbor in the midst of life’s storms, the Son of Peace.