The man whispered, "God, speak to me."
And a meadowlark sang.
But the man did not hear.
So the man yelled, "God, speak to me!"
And the thunder rolled across the sky.
… But the man did not listen.
The man looked around and said, "God, let me see you."
And a star shone brightly.
But the man did not notice.
And the man shouted, "God, show me a miracle!"
And a life was born.
But the man did not know.
So, the man cried out in despair.
"Touch me God, and let me know that you are here!"
Whereupon God reached down and touched the man.
But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.



The sheep that are my own hear and are listening to my voice; and I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27

(Louis Robbe (attr) Schafherde in hügeliger Landschaft)

These days, there seems to be a cacophony of religious voices, all saying different things. 

In matters of faith, only one voice matters.  How will we discern that voice? 

Psalm 46 says: “Be still and know that I am God.” 

Be still.

We modern folk are such poor listeners.  We label each other, we talk past each other, we judge each other, we jump to conclusions, we stop listening.

We want to be heard, we want everyone else to listen to us, we talk to whomever will listen.



No, really, I mean it!  Stop talking (mentally even) and … just …


This song (linked below) reminds us just to take it in, and to give it back.  Not to tell others or to tell God how it is or what we want, sometimes not even to tell God what we need. 

Sometimes, we are just to


And, if we respond,  our response is to “lift a hymn of grateful praise.” 

Nothing more, nothing less.

Heather Prusse sings For the Beauty of the Earth

In thought,  word, and deed, let us praise our God.  As it is said in Psalm 19:14:

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

May peace be with you!


I believe that at the center of the universe there dwells a loving spirit who longs for all that’s best in all of creation, a spirit who knows the great potential of each planet as well as each person, and little by little will love us into being more than we ever dreamed possible. That loving spirit would rather die than give up on any one of us.

Presbyterian pastor Fred Rogers, writing in Life’s Journey According to Mister Rogers



Jesus had a remarkable gift for seeing through everything superficial, for peeling back the layers of the dusty, superficial robes of identity we wear,  to peer into a person’s inner soul.   Whether speaking to a Roman Centurian, to a Samaritan adulteress, or to a distinguished Rabbi,  Jesus always seemed to see beyond title or position and to respond to the deeper thoughts and real need of the individual he was relating to.

(From Wikimedia commons:  Guercino, Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well)

This is no surprise, is it?  We expect God to know us!   Moreover, since there is no chance we will be embarrassed by meeting God in the supermarket tomorrow, it is relatively low risk for us to reveal in quiet prayer the yearnings of our deepest, secret places.

But wait!  What if, as the song says, God were one of us?  Would we be willing to reveal ourselves to God, in that case?

Consider Matthew 25:37-39:

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

What if God is among us, gauging us and knowing us even more, by every response we make to an other.  What if, by our responses to others, we reveal our self to God?  What if God is, in a real sense, in the other person?   And, if God is present in our interactions with an other, what does that say about how we ought to relate to that other?

Consider  Matthew 7:12:  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

This is getting tough.  Does it make a difference if the other is my enemy?  Peter already asked that question.   God does not let us off the hook.  Jesus’s reply to Peter (in Matthew 5:46) was, in so many words, “no excuses:”

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  . . . And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?

Herein is the root of our calling to engage in Christian conflict transformation, not just conflict “resolution”.  Resolution may find a superficial solution, but it does not heal the conflict.  Resolution may address causes, but Christians are more or less directly instructed to go deeper, to see the other as Christ sees the other.  We aim to see, and to be seen, on a deeper and less superficial level.  Which is, more or less, to say that when we rise to this challenge, perhaps we begin to see ourselves and the other more like God sees us.

When we do this, we enable the cause of conflict to be addressed on a deeper and more fundamental level.  Our experience of the conflict is transformed.  This is what is called “conflict transformation.”  When our understanding is transformed,  our positions and views shift, and this new viewpoint often can cause shifts in how we respond to the conflict.  To call this merely “compromise” is trite.  It is the difference between the earth shifting as the result of an earthquake, versus moving a fence line.  Perhaps when the earth moves, the fence is no longer even needed.

Can we do it?  Yes, by the Grace of God, yes, it is possible.  The principles work whether we are Christian or not.  Kenneth Cloke, a secular mediator, speaks about conflict transformation in his book The Crossroads of Conflict  as follows:

Every conflict presents the parties… with a… choice. They can cling to safe territory, keep the conversation focused on relatively superficial issues and avoid mentioning deeper topics, remaining locked in impasse and placing their lives on hold.

Or they can take a risk, adopt a more open, honest, empathic approach and initiate a deeper, more dangerous, heartfelt conversation that could change their lives and result in transformation and transcendence.

Which path they take will depend partly on their willingness to engage each other in heartfelt communications.

A heartfelt conversation that could change our life.  Are we ready for it?  Cloke explains the secular side:

Transcendence occurs when people gain insight into the attitudes, intentions and perceptions that sustained their conflict, improve their ability to learn from it, work collaboratively to prevent its reoccurrence and evolve to higher levels of conflict and resolution.

On the spiritual side, we are doing nothing less than what our Lord demands.  We begin to see the other, and to see ourselves, more like God sees us.  And,  through this new revelation and by developing skill in relating to one another with love, we grow and learn more about how to exist as the transcendent, spiritual creatures that we are. 

THE CONTENTS BENEATH THIS POINT ARE ALL ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT RELATED TO, SPONSORED, OR ENDORSED BY TRINITY PEACEMAKERKS.   Content that follows does not reflect in any way the spirit or mission of Trinity Peacemakers. The presence of advertising here is the cost of having free hosting of this blog.

The Trinity Presbytery community was saddened by the death of Phyllis Melvin, founder of Dimes for Hunger and champion of Harvest Hope Food Bank. 

In 2009, Melvin (a member of Forest Lake Presbyterian) was honored by the ecumenical group Church Women United as a local heroine of Peacemaking, for her work in starting Dimes for Hunger.

In the following YouTube video, please listen to Phyllis as she tells Forest Lake Presbyterian pastor Ellen Skidmore about her passion to help feed hungry people and how she came to this ministry: 

Phyllis Melvin, founder of Dimes for Hunger, interviewed in May of 2011 by Ellen Skidmore, Senior Pastor at Forest Lake Presbyterian Church.


There will be a Service to the Witness of the Resurrection for Mrs. Melvin, to be held on Friday, February 17, 2011, at 11:00 A.M., at Forest Lake Presbyterian Church, 6500 North Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC. 

Memorials may be sent to Forest Lake Presbyterian Church.  Please earmark any contributions with the name of Mrs. Melvin. 


“Through the selection of questions that empower, to the intuitive sacredness of each reframe, the genius of communication shines through in every soul who agrees to sit with presence with other souls who are rapt with pain and drowning in fear. If you are willing to go to their hell with them in every instance, you will be the artist who leads them from the self-imposed prison of skewed perception to the clarity of understanding. In that act of willingness, you will be made a stronger person in your own right.”

From     N.W. Burnett, Calm in the Face of the Storm: Daily Spiritual Practice for Peacemakers, p. 256 (2010)

Illustration Angelika Kauffmann, Artist, “Christus und die Samariterin am Brunnen” (Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well), 1796, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons (public domain in source country and in US)

Nonviolent direct action was employed by Martin Luther King, Jr., to effectuate change in the USA, and modeled on the writings and work of Gandhi in South Africa and India.  These are two examples of successful nonviolent change.  But are there others?  Does nonviolence really work? 

The answer is, yes. 

Nonviolent revolutions have about double the success rate of those marked by violent means.   The rates of success were documented in a study by Maria J. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth, "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict." International Security 33, no. 1 (Summer 2008): 7-44. 

According to Stephan and Chenoweth, of 323 violent and nonviolent movements between 1900 and 2006, 53% of the nonviolent ones succeeded as compared to only 26% of the violent ones. What’s even more telling is that when the movements were repressed, the nonviolent movements were 6 times more likely to succeed.

The article can be accessed at the following link:  http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/IS3301_pp007-044_Stephan_Chenoweth.pdf



The Pink Panzer