In November we enter the annual season of Remembrance for our churches and our nation, culminating in Remembrance Sunday on 12th November. This year, as I write this piece in early October, I do so with a heart heavy with sadness against the backdrop of the dramatic and horrific escalation in the conflict in the Middle East which has become a dreadful reality for many millions of people in Israel and Gaza over the last few days. We are all, I’m sure, grappling with the horrors unfolding day by day which are being relayed through the media and the stark images and stories of suffering, the personal stories of loss and grief and the utter hopelessness that many feel as homes, livelihoods and loved ones are taken on both sides. Some of you, no doubt will have friends or relatives who are in some way affected.
Yet again, as in the ongoing war in Ukraine, we see the dreadful human cost of war, particularly the cost to ordinary people, men, women and children caught up in a struggle not of their making. It seems that we have learnt so little through the years, through the conflicts which we will recall again on Remembrance Sunday in two World Wars, through the wars in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, The Falklands, the conflict in Northern Ireland, Syria, and so many more….through the sacrifice of so many for the cause of power or identity, freedom or peace??
In such dark days where is hope to be found?
In times of trouble many of us turn to God, and ask the questions that have no answers, and pray for peace. I believe that God weeps with those who weep and stays close to those who ask for his presence with them.
I believe God longs for the day when humanity turns away from the foolishness and futility of war and seeks real and lasting peace across a world that so needs God’s peace. Those days have been long awaited even from Old Testament times when the word of God came to the prophet Isaiah:
‘God will teach us what he wants us to do;
we will walk in the paths he has chosen….
He will settle disputes among great nations.
They will hammer their swords into ploughs
and their spears into pruning knives.
Nations will never again go to war,
never prepare for battle again.
Today, and in the days to come I will continue to pray for peace in Israel, Gaza, Ukraine and beyond, across our world. I do not know what will have happened by the time you read this but I hope that you will share with me in that prayer and that, even now, nations at war will turn back to seek God’s way of peace.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’
May God fill you with the hope of peace in a troubled world