Jesus is the peace that matters

Peace-it-Together brings youths together from across Canada

March 28, 2012 | Young Voices
Rachel Bergen | Young Voices Co-Editor

“Find us empty and wandering, we the lost and the least. Find us in the wilderness and fill us with your feast.” (From “Fill us with your Feast” by Phil Campbell-Enns.)

When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, to jump from a ledge and to worship him, it was a temptation for Jesus to have control in a chaotic situation.

People face similar temptations every day. This was the lesson taught at Peace-it-Together (PIT), a youth conference that took place at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), Winnipeg, from March 9 to 11, that included presentations by CMU faculty members Kenton Lobe, an international development studies instructor; Justin Neufeld, a lecturer in philosophy; and Irma Fast Dueck, an assistant professor of practical theology, who spoke on the theme, “Jesus, the peace that matters.”

Lobe took a hard look at the time Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting in Matthew 4. “The wilderness is a place to encounter all that is not our frenzied daily living,” he said. “Fasting was, and is, a way of becoming centred around God.”

But 40 days without food in the desert must have been unbearable. Enter the devil when Jesus is at his weakest, to tempt him to break his fast.

According to Lobe, Christians these days need a little perspective on food. “Sometimes I wonder if we need to take a collective walk in the wilderness to think of bread as more than food,” he said. “It’s a crisis of place that we don’t know what we’re eating or where it’s from.”

Sometimes people even have an inability to give thanks for the food on their plates. Meanwhile, there are food riots from Haiti to Egypt and the Philippines, and there is acute hunger in East and West Africa.

Neufeld focused on the second temptation, in which Jesus was tempted to jump off a cliff. He drew on stories of Achilles, who was “almost god-like,” and John McCain, a former U.S. presidential candidate and a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, to show the difference between pride and arrogance and integrity and goodness.

“We are called to prove our integrity and goodness, and to save others from turning to the wolves in the world,” he said, pointing to McCain’s example when he refused to abandon his colleagues in the prison when he had the opportunity to do so.

Finally, Fast Dueck focused on the third temptation to be a ruler of all of the kingdoms. She talked about how people often feel tempted to have control in chaotic situations, but, in this case, Jesus said no to control, knowing God had control of the situation. “In Jesus, God descends to remind us again of his humanity, that he suffers like you and I, and that he’s tempted like you and I,” Fast Dueck said.

Emily Hamm, 16, who attends Wildwood Mennonite Church, Saskatoon, said PIT was an opportunity to learn “how temptation affects the way we live our lives and how much of what we do is controlled by material possessions.”

Naomi Epp, 16, from Hamilton Mennonite Church, Ont., said she felt encouraged being at PIT, knowing “we are learning how to work together to make peace.” She also related to the idea that “technology can take us away from following God. It can be so addicting and can take you away from your faith.”

PIT also featured choir performances; Gadfly, a drama by Theatre of the Beat; a variety night featuring CMU students performing musical acts, comedies and a dance; and workshops.

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