Magazines 2020 May - Jun Disney, COVID-19 and a moment for peace and reconciliation

Disney, COVID-19 and a moment for peace and reconciliation

01 May 2020 , 2020 May - Jun By Phil Wagler

Faith Today is partnering with the Peace & Reconciliation Network to launch a new twice-monthly blog series offering inspiration and equipping related to peace and reconciliation. Here's the first post.

Disney. Do you remember the world without that famous name? The company was founded in 1923; the centennial fireworks should be stunning. Disney surrounds us from birth. Our first books can bear the signature. Our first toy or movie memories begin there. Disney is a dream and destination. Disney is a family.

You might think that being the posterity of Walt and Roy would carry a natural immunization to conflict. Surely of all peoples the Disney’s have mastered whistling while you work!

We’re all navigating COVID-19 life. People are isolated, unemployed and dying. Tensions are rising. It’s no different for the Disney dynasty. Abigail Disney is granddaughter of Roy, the company’s co-founder. She is an Emmy Award winner with a PhD from Columbia University. So, when Disney furloughed over a hundred thousand low-paid workers after paying its executives massive bonuses during this pandemic, she ranted.

“I’ve been holding my tongue on the theory that a pandemic is no time to be calling people out on anything,” she tweeted. “I thought it might be a moment for peace and reconciliation. But I feel a thread coming on.” She proceeded to call out the happiest company on earth. Her dashed dream underlines what this blog series will address: peace and reconciliation.

We are in a historical moment. Disney may one day make a movie about us. With Abigail, we may hope this is a time for peace and reconciliation. Self-isolation is revealing genuine goodness: gifts on doorsteps, groceries delivered, waves from neighbours. Yet, cracks are emerging. The heiress’s rant over injustices within the company bearing her name are only one example. Many are struggling. Hoarding and reselling necessities had to be stopped. Pregnancy crisis centers have seen caseloads spike. Food banks are maxed. Anti-isolationists scream in the faces of frontline workers. Tensions rise in homes; even between nations.

I thought it might be a moment for peace and reconciliation?

Well, it is! The Church is always sent as God’s vessel of peace and reconciliation. COVID-19 is just another moment for the body of Christ to proclaim and demonstrate God’s Good News with integrity and power here and now.

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,” writes the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 5:18).

What is this “all?” It is the new perspective of the world, people and purpose because of the reconciling, saving act of God in Christ on behalf of the world God so loved. Christians, those I presume most likely to read this, are the reconciled. Reconciliation, the restoration of peace and partnership between God and humanity, is the heart of what God has accomplished. “All” this is the identity of the repentant and redeemed; an individual and a corporate reality.

What has God given? The reconciled community is gifted the ministry of reconciliation. We have been graced with the Lord’s in-birthed persuasion to serve the divided tables of a broken world. The church has been gifted the reconciling activity of God in history. The Gospel restores us to God, one another and creation. The Gospel is God’s Word proclaimed and the God-ward life demonstrated. The Gospel is evangelistic and social in scope. The Gospel transforms sinners and cities. The Gospel forms local fellowships who are armies of reconciliation. When the world teeters the local church is not called to build empires of self-preservation with happiest place on earth personas; but to be the vessel, the demonstrable community of God’s shalom in the world. This holy vision is shockingly large in scope, and disturbingly small in actuality.

In infectious days, you and I – and our local fellowships – reconciled to God in Christ become ground zero for the ministry of reconciliation. The world is hopeful this is a moment. The Church exists to demonstrate reconciliation is the movement from the heart of God.

It is this theme our new blog series (faithtoday.ca/reconciling) will explore.

Phil Wagler is the North American network coordinator for the Peace & Reconciliation Network of the World Evangelical Alliance. He's also lead pastor of Kelowna Gospel Fellowship Church, Kelowna, B.C. (Mickey Mouse photo courtesy Pixabay.)