During the Olympics, in 1212, a sensitive idea was brought forward by church leaders: namely to have a pre-Olympic celebration of Christianity called 100 Days of Peace. The aim was to ensure that the theme of Peace would be held to as a religious and Christian theme, especially in the minds of young school children, rather than the typical Olympic image of political peace, a kind of convenient truce between States that were, in other respects, keen to fight each other.
The Peace Corner that we set up in one area of our Newham church of St. Francis was the work of children from our primary school. We also held a prayer service with music and singing by the children and the presentation of their works of art. Themes such as the trafficking of children, the need for Fair Trade mentalities, and inter-racial friendship communicated the difficult long-term commitment needed for overcoming upheaval and distress.
Peace was presented therefore as deeply desirable but also often elusive. Not something that we can afford to treat with glibness. This is a valid point about what creates a genuinely supportive network of relationships. The Paralympics, later in the summer, were a great success, and in many ways a vindication of the churches’ message of better listening and greater kindness. To be ready to celebrate the sporting achievements of those with serious physical handicaps is the beginning of a move towards a more inclusive view of Peace.
The notion of a worshipping community as a place of inclusiveness appeared as a spirituality of initiatives among the marginalised in the days of St. Francis.