By Peter Haresnape

[The following was written by Peter Haresnape, a member of the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team,  as a sermon on liberating love for Christian Peacemaker Teams.  It appears on pages 36-37 of the August 2016 edition of Sojourners Magazine.  I post it as a reminder to me that if my postings on this blog are not posted in love, they are in fact nothing more than the irritating noise of a shameless self-promoter.  Emphasis in the text is original.]

If I know all the latest anti-oppressive lingo, but have not love … If I speak about courage and justice, and siding with the oppressed, and speaking truth to power no matter the cost, but do not speak in love, I AM JUST A LOUD MOUTHED ORATOR, A WHITE SAVIOR, A SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTER.

If I am excellent at nonviolent communication, and I take great pictures, and I know all the latest anti-oppressive lingo, and I can analyze racist systems so as to dismantle them entirely, but have not love, I AM NOTHING.

If I fully embrace the work of a prophet and activist and martyr, and get dragged away by the riot police or bombed by the military of my own country, but have not love, THAT IS NO USE TO ANYONE.

LOVE SURVIVES EVIL, war, oppression.  Love is patient.  It remains when the tear gas clears and the children go back to school.  It is still there when the water is protected.  Love is kind, not arrogant, not insisting on its own way, but making space for joy and truth even in the hardest circumstance.

Whether it is love between two people, or love of a person for their community, or love of a community for its land, or love of justice and peace and equity, love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

CLEVER WORDS WILL BE FORGOTTEN.  The most interesting facts are subject to revision.  The best sermon you’ve ever heard – you will forget.  Right now, everything we do is flawed and inaccurate.  But.  One day we’ll experience Truth with a Capital T.  And then all this will be unnecessary.

Before I was mature, I was immature.  In becoming mature, I left behind ways of speaking, thinking, and reasoning that were immature.

RIGHT NOW we’re hearing murmurs, reading translations, seeing shadows on the wall, but one day we’ll see face to face.

RIGHT NOW, half the time I’m guessing, but one day I will know beyond all doubt – and I will be fully known.

What remains when it is all stripped away is three things:

FAITH that the flawed world as we see it is not all that there is;

HOPE that the next generation will live in a better world;

and LOVE to give us the strength and motivation to build it.


Image is of Christian Peacemaker Teams member Art Gish blocking the way of an Israeli army tank in the West Bank town of Hebron on Jan. 30, 2003.  Gish died in 2010. — Photo by Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Wide World Photo