Now Is the Time for Sustaining Peace Between
Armenia and Azerbaijan
December 21, 2020
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9
On November 9, Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to a ceasefire to end fighting in the Caucasus. Although the ceasefire is fragile, and false starts at peace may occur, now is the time for building a new future. Now is the time to put away the guns, the angry rhetoric, the desires for revenge, and the claims of victory and betrayal. Now is the time for peacemakers.
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) asks for prayers for the Armenian Orthodox Church, a CMEP Board member organization, as the church grieves violence, loss, and the remnant consequences of war.
Methodist theologian John Wesley put it this way in a 1739 sermon on the Matthew 5:9 verse above.
(Peacemakers) “utterly detest and abhor all strife and debate, all variance and contention; and accordingly labor with all their might, either to prevent this fire of hell from being kindled, or, when it is kindled, from breaking out, or, when it is broke out, from spreading any farther. They endeavor to calm the stormy spirits of men, to quiet their turbulent passions, to soften the minds of contending parties, and, if possible, reconcile them to each other. They use all innocent arts, and employ all their strength, all the talents which God has given them, as well to preserve peace where it is, as to restore it where it is not.”
Such is the task for peacemakers in the Caucasus today. Our prayers for the cessation of violent conflict have been answered. We are thankful a ceasefire was mediated, and we wish Godspeed to the peacekeepers. But we must pray that the two peoples will now build peace between them, and we urge the U.S. to play a productive role in encouraging peace and addressing the outstanding issues between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Loving and merciful God, we give thanks that the ceasefire is holding, and the killing has stopped. We mourn the unnecessary losses and pray for a speedy resolution to the issue of prisoners-of-war. May postwar efforts respect and maintain human rights and adhere to international law.
O Lord, our shepherd, protect the people on both sides from further harm. Let them fear no further evils. Prepare a table for those leaving their homes and for those returning to them. Bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives on both sides, and release the prisoners from darkness.
Holy Spirit, Breath of Life, we ask your help that the people and their leaders on both sides will look to the future, working for reconciliation using the ceasefire and diplomacy. That both sides will turn from violence and do good, seek peace, and pursue it. We ask your blessing and protection for the peacemakers and peace for all your peoples.
For this, we fervently pray, Amen.