This year’s festival will feature an exciting opportunity to “forge peace” in a very literal way highlighting our theme—Blessed are the Peacemakers.
RAWtools, with the help of Tim Coons and Justin Bullis, will be leading two peacemaking liturgies at the Wild Goose Festival next month. The liturgy includes the usual singing, scripture readings and testimonies, but with an added dimension. Together we will also create a physical representation of God’s prophecy in Micah and Isaiah of “beating your swords into plowshares”.
The gun will be disassembled and, using a small furnace, the metal components melted down to create a tool of creation. Romal Tune will be speaking at the PeaceMaker on Gun Violence Liturgy and John Dear at our PeaceMaker on War Liturgy.
Founder Mike Martin had considered the concept for RAWtools for many years. His anabaptist faith background coupled with experience in the family landscaping business combined to birth the concept. But, it was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012 that propelled him into action.
In 2013, Mike launched the RAWtools at the Justice Conference, held in Philadelphia that year.
“Our goal is to create new narratives of nonviolence and peacemaking, instead of narratives of violence,” says Mike.
Guns used during the liturgy are donated by individuals who no longer want a weapon in their home and sometimes by police officers. Mike hopes to formally partner with police departments, offering a constructive way to dispose of confiscated weapons. “We want to let them know that we’re an option as far as what what we can do with weapons, that we’re an option for police departments or even just for people who are uncomfortable having a gun in their home,” he explains. At the end of the liturgy, the newly made tool is given to someone involved in the service or sold to help fund the work of RAWtools.
Mike can’t wait to get to Wild Goose this year. The two liturgies being held at the festival are part of the PeaceMaker Tour which was launched this January.
He knows that, in some ways, he’ll be preaching to the choir.
But for Mike, peacemaking is about more than the occasional liturgy; it’s a daily practice.
“It’s living out the witness of Christ, being a listener, loving alongside people,” explains Mike.
“Being a peacemaker is about a lot of little stuff—being in relationship—and not necessarily big, grand, Nobel-Peace-Prize stuff,” he says. The hardest part is having patience and practicing peace toward those with whom we strongly disagree or even dislike. Not that Nobel Peace Prize scale is bad (Nobel Peace Prize nominee John Dear is speaking at our Friday Liturgy.).
In fact, he has a practical suggestion for how to ‘forge peace’ this week.
Have lunch with someone you don’t like to be around, suggests Mike, “an enemy, someone that hits all your pet peeves.”
“To sit down and listen and have lunch with somebody,” says Mike. “That is an act of peacemaking.”