Prelude to Christmas
By John McConnell

EARTH MINUTE:  2:00 PM EST (1900 GMT) December 22, 1998

"A Minute for God’s love and peace to flood our planet"

December 22, 1998, will be the 35th anniversary of the Peace Minute that ended the period of mourning for President John F. Kennedy in 1963. December 22nd was then designated "Minute for Peace Day" by San Francisco and other cities.

Radio and TV carried a "Minute for Peace" which I produced with the help of KCBS. In it we heard the voice of President Kennedy from when he had spoken at the United Nations, "Never have the nations of the world had so much to lose, or so much to gain. Together, we can save our planet, or together perish in its flames. Save it we can, and save it we must…"

This was followed by an invitation to listeners to join together in a silent prayer for peace "in our hearts and in the world."

In 1965 Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant, provided a "Minute for Peace" which was broadcast globally. In 1971, at my request, he issued a Proclamation for Earth Day. And on Earth Day, March 21, the day of the equinox and the first day of Spring, he rang the United Nations Peace Bell, which was followed by a minute of silent prayer or meditation, joined by many people around the world.

Each year since then the Earth Day Celebration at the United Nations has featured the ringing of the Peace Bell – followed by silent prayer or meditation. Since 1973 this has occurred at the exact moment of the equinox – nature’s symbol of equilibrium and unity.

While the equinox symbolizes unity and balance, the solstice – nature’s other event that relates us to planets and stars – is a symbol of diversity. December 22, 1998, will be the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. This is the day of the annual December Solstice.

Humanity needs to maximize unity, while at the same time we accommodate and justify valid diversity. We all sense a global crisis of danger and opportunity: Opportunity, if we act as responsible Earth Trustees and take care of our planet – and are honest and fair with our adversaries: Danger, if we deceive each other, or ignore urgent goals and basic values we have in common – or fail to understand and allow for honest differences.

Coincidences are often fascinating – especially those that defy probability theory. An amazing coincidence occurred on the 20th Earth Day, March 20, 1989 – the year the Berlin Wall came down. On that Earth Day the equinox occurred at 10:28 a.m. EST. The solstice that had preceded it on December 22, 1988, was at exactly the same time of day – 10:28 a.m. EST. Minute for Peace and Earth Day connected!

The assassination of John F. Kennedy wrenched the heart of the whole world – of both enemies and friends. Let’s make the 35th Anniversary of Minute for Peace a Day of Repentance, a day of deep decisions to heal the breaches in the human family, a time to recognize our differences, to forgive past wrongs, to seek understanding and feature cooperation for common objectives: to seek God's peace in our hearts and in our relations with our world neighbors. This can be a prelude to a Christmas miracle of peace and good will on Planet Earth.

John McConnell
November 1998

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