There is no doubt that violence is part of our life in St. Louis City, in our nation, and in our world. Violent crime even happen in churches. In June of 2015 nine people were killed while attending a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Less than a month ago the president of a Christian college in Virginia encouraged the students on campus to arm themselves with handguns. The students were encouraged to avail themselves of the free hand gun training classes provided by the university. Some Christian leaders and organizations are on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to their view toward violence and/or the use of weapons. Conversations about violence can be extremely difficult even among Christians. It’s no wonder when we consider the amount of violence that we encounter when we read the Bible.

In January we are going to talk about what it means to follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace, in this world that is so full of violence. Over the next few weeks we will ask a lot of questions: How does scripture define violence? What did Jesus, the Prince of Peace, teach and model about peace and violent behavior? What did he mean when he said “Don’t think that I’ve come to bring peace to the earth. I haven’t come to bring peace but a sword.” in Matthew 10: 34? When Jesus taught us to “turn the other cheek.” Does that really mean that Christians are called to be human punching bags…no matter what? As individuals and as a congregation what are some practical ways we can promote peace within our selves, our families, our work place, our communities?

I hope that you will be in prayer for me and for all of us as we seek God’s guidance about a difficult and often controversial subject. May God grant us the grace we need as we think and talk about violence and what it means to follow the Prince of Peace.