Go in peace

Friendly Reminder: A weekly reflection from the Quaker Leadership Center

When my spouse and I were contemplating a move related to a new job, we were visiting a church pastored by a friend of ours. It was a difficult decision, so I was especially attentive to how God may be speaking during worship. As I listened to the reading of scripture, there were three words that stood out to me: “Go in peace.”

I didn’t hear it as a command to move so much as an invitation to make a move in freedom and right relationship. Whether we stayed or went, we could do so in peace. These days, I find God invites us into partnership and responsibility rather than giving controlling commands to do X, Y or Z. In the words of John’s Jesus and Quakers, we are called to be friends as much as servants of God. It felt as though the “stay” or “go” was up to us to decide, in relationship to our clearness committee. The “in peace” part was God’s reminder. If we stayed, we were called to stay “in peace”—without regrets or resentment. If we went, we were to go “in peace”—not running away from anything or leaving anything unfinished. Additionally, the call in going would be to go “in peace”—to go as peacemakers in our new context.

As Quakers, we are often good about remembering the “in peace” part of the call to “go in peace.” It’s the “go” part that we sometimes have trouble with.

Speaking of peace, there are few things that test my peace testimony more than a particular traffic faux pas: being stopped at a green light. You wait and wait, with places to go and people to see, only to be trapped behind distracted and selfish folks taking their sweet time before pulling out. Can you relate? Okay, so I’m a work in progress…

Maybe I’m projecting but sometimes I get the sense that God gets a little frustrated when we are given a green light and we keep our lives in park. God has dreams for us and is always drawing us forward through the Light Within. Often that Light is a green light. God draws us into actions and projects for peace and justice, healing and transforming. But we sit idling, while the flow of the peaceable commonwealth is blocked like traffic. At some point the metaphor breaks down, but the point remains that our reluctance to move forward in faith can keep us spiritually stuck and keep our congregations stagnant. Unlike my own discernment story, the emphasis is often on the “go.” Go in peace, yes, but please do go.

No wonder the old Quaker admonition is twofold:

Be careful not to run ahead of the guide…

Or fall behind.

Where have you been given in a green light in your life or leadership? How can you/your meeting follow the calling to GO in peace?