Monday, December 23, 2013


For the fifth time our local Pax Christi group has sponsored a billboard in Port Huron calling for the courage of peace and nonviolence in our all too violent land.   Pax Christi means Peace of Christ in Latin-- a living peace, brought by faith in God rather than faith in guns.   This is an international movement started by the bishops of France and Germany right after WWII to heal the wounds, and convert the hearts of Christians on either side who’d been through the hell of killing each other, in God’s name.
This year’s billboard, as last year’s, has the message “CHOOSE NONVIOLENCE, CHRISTMAS INVITES THE MERCIFUL AND THE JUST.”   The pictures of Mother Theresa, and Dr. Martin Luther King appear over the words “merciful” and “just” respectively.   You can see it lighted, facing north, across from the Pine Grove Mall, near the Garfield and Pine Grove intersection, starting December 23rd  for one month. 

ur Blue Water Pax Christi group put its first similar billboard up in 2003, just as the Iraq War began, as part of our plea, and that of many Christians, to replace strategies of war, with the works of justice and charity, as did Dr. Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa.  MLK’s call to follow the way of Jesus, “NONVIOLENCE IS A WAY OF LIFE FOR COURAGEOUS PEOPLE,” {King’s first organizing principle}, was the sign’s centerpiece, framed by both of their pictures.

 We did this also in 2006 and 2009 with Gandhi’s picture paired with Martin Luther King’s, as part of the non-denominational “Season for Nonviolence”, 64 days  of programs presenting nonviolence, in Port Huron [and nationally] which begin Jan. 30th [day Gandhi was killed] and end on April 4th [day Dr. King was killed].  This active prayerful celebration will happen again this year in our town.
This current Christmas centered message was developed last year and involved copyright arrangements with the Martin Luther King Center in Atlanta, and the cooperation of Sr. M. Callisita [western hemisphere motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity in Tijuana, Mexico].  It was a bit more work than in the past.  We had to change the wording, and came up with the Christmas theme.   Providentially, it came to be just after the nation suffered the violence of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. 

There is a price tag, about $850.  Generous sponsors from our churches and the Season for Nonviolence have helped pay for years to advertise the message of nonviolent love to replace violent hate.  Local Knights of Columbus councils have made a special contribution this year.  It has become a Christmas prayer message and New Year’s resolution, coinciding with Martin Luther King Day, to cast out violence and invite in, Mercy and Justice.  We would hope that this one billboard in Port Huron, could become a nation-wide public service ad campaign, to choose active, engaged, prayerful nonviolence.
A sign of hope, a bright sign of God’s inspired nonviolence—mercy and justice to bridge the polarized elements of our society, our world.

School violence continues.  War continues, and was threatened to escalate in Syria.  There were certainly many factors, but Pope Francis’ call for a world-wide vigil of prayer and fasting surely contributed to averting deeper war.    Prayer is effective.
To repel the gathering violence we need to unite the social justice [MLK] and devotional charity [Mother Theresa] aspects of our churches, conservative and liberal sides of our community, which have too often been at odds, especially with the changing political seasons. Yet both sides must work and pray for each other—repent of cliff-hanger politics, and commit to the common good.

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

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