If you were in a Mennonite Church anywhere in the world last Sunday the chances are that the theme was peace. The Mennonite World Conference Peace Committee decided in 2006 that the Sunday closest to the UN declared International Day of Peace (Sept. 21) would be Peace Sunday in Mennonite churches around the world. So it was in Ouagadougou. Our focus was on peace and on being peacemakers or, as the expression goes in French, being crafters of peace (“artisans de la paix”).
Pastor Bananzaro told us that Peace Sunday is not the only day of the year we should be concerned about peace. Rather it is a day when we remember again to align ourselves with God’s purposes in the world. He talked about some of the sources of conflict in Burkina Faso and in Ouagadougou. From the personal conflicts that arise in traffic accidents to domestic violence to unequal distribution of resources he evoked situations where violence has become prevalent. He referred to the land grabs by agri-business interests which displace local farmers who have no recourse because the justice system is dysfunctional and so frustrated people take the law into their own hands. In all of these situations, the church should be an instrument for peace. Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
He explained that God’s peace concerns all areas of life: the social, political, economic and spiritual aspects of life. Peace is not something that just happens; it must be cultivated or it will disappear. As peacemakers, we should spread peace wherever we go. Pastor Bananzaro ended his sermon by inviting us to be crafters of peace on a daily basis; it is on the basis of the peace we sow around us that we will show we are children of God (Mt. 5:9.)