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CREATING SPACES
SHARING STORIES
BUILDING FRIENDSHIPS ACROSS DIVIDES

 


As we look towards the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May it seems appropriate to be looking at the subject of "How to be a Peacemaker." Our story this week comes from the Christian tradition and considers the idea of brave friendships across cultures. I am sure that 75 years ago there were many acts of kindness that drew people together across divides. I wonder if you might feel able to reach out to someone this week who sees the world from a different perspective than you.

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How can we be peacemakers? – Christianity
This is a story from the Bible and can be found in the New Testament book of Acts. Ananias was a leader in the early church who demonstrated what it means to be a peacemaker. We often think of peace as an absence of conflict, but sometimes peace comes through building bridges across difficult relationships. Being a peacemaker can sometimes involve being brave, taking a risk and reaching out towards others who may not see things in the same way.

This is what Ananias did when he met up with Saul. Saul’s job was to track down and arrest followers of Jesus and put them into jail. When Ananias reached out to Saul he was in great danger but his actions changed how the early church developed.
 

Saul and Ananias

As Saul was coming near the city of Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” he asked. “I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said, “But get up and go into the city, where you will be told what you must do.”
 
Those who were traveling with Saul had stopped, not saying a word; they heard the voice but could not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground and opened his eyes but could not see a thing. So, they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. For three days he was not able to see, and during that time he did not eat or drink anything.
 
Meanwhile there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. He had a vision, in which the Lord said to him, “Ananias!” “Here I am, Lord,” he answered. The Lord said to him, “Go to the house of Judas ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul.” Ananias answered, “Lord, many people have told me about this man and about all the terrible things he has done to your people in Jerusalem. And he has come to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who worship you.” The Lord said to him, “Go, because I have chosen him.”
 
So, Ananias went to the house where Saul was staying and placed his hands on him. “Brother Saul,” he said, “the Lord has sent me—Jesus himself, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He sent me so that you might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” At once something like fish scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he was able to see again. He stood up and was baptized; and after he had eaten, his strength came back. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.
 
(This story is adapted from Acts chapter 9 in the Good News Bible)
Follow up questions:
  1. Can you think of any places in the world where people disagree strongly with each other?
  2. Do you ever disagree strongly with your friends and/or family?
  3. What sort of things do you do to help resolve differences?
  4. Have you ever experienced a brave friendship like Saul and Ananias that was difficult at first but then became incredibly valuable?
 
 
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