Monday, November 8, 2010

I promise..

Good morning God,
Can I be honest and tell you now that, as much as I love you, as much as I recognise your supreme authority over my life, I will not kill for you, neither will I hate for you - that is my promise to you.
That, regardless of how I may be provoked and stirred up, I will strive to hold to the core of your teaching and own that any violence I commit is my own - and that you have no part in it. I will remind myself daily that human righteous wrath does not exist, except as the hatred which fills the empty hearts of the lost.  I will fill my heart with your love and find the means to grieve every brother and sister lost to such empty, life destroying passions, and hold fast to your call for us to pray for the perpetrators as well as the victim of such pains.

I make this promise and state it deliberately in the hope that others will do the same so that the blood that we smear you with, and the hatred we place in your mouth might cease - before it destroys us all.

One of the tables in our cafe at New Malden Methodist Church is unofficially reserved for a small but loyal handful of Iraqi refugees, many of whom are Christian - Syrian Catholics and Orthodox. They repeatedly remind me that their homeland is part of the cradle of Christianity. Their presence in our cafe, enhances our faith and enables us to be obedient to our own calling here in the West.

And last week we were witnesses to their grief at the massacre in the cathedral. I sat and listened and was told the stories the newspapers are only now getting hold of, the stories of faith hope and persecution. The dilemma of whether to stay or flee. (a question exacerbated by what is seen as the lax Christian standards here in the West.)
I learned that this is not just about the preservation of life - but of faith - real faith. The faith that is bound to the heart, to the land, and to the world. Faith that has enabled these Christians to live alongside Muslims for centuries, the faith that promotes unity and peace. This is a faith that refuses to deny the evil in humankind, but will not bow to it either.

I was ashamed at how small we make it by reducing it to a question of survival, of asylum.

They know that this is not just a question of whether Christian's should flee - but whether people of faith can ever be people of peace. Can Iraq ever be healed? Can the middle-east ever find peace? This is not just about avoiding another massacre, this is about denying fear and hatred the right to decide the future of humanity and partition the world into pseudo religious states. They are convinced that there can be no peace in the middle east (and hence in the world) until Muslim, Christian and Jew are able to live as neighbours not strangers.

I am likewise convinced this will never happen until Christian, Jew and Muslim alike promise not to kill or hate in your name. When the veil of religious fanaticism is removed,  the greed, hatred, fear and politics that are the real root of this discord will be exposed and rendered impotent.

So I make you my promise God -  my covenant of faith
I will not kill or hate for you,
but will live to share the love of you,
regardless of how I am provoked or stirred up.
I will pray and grieve for my brother and sister 
who are lost in violence and hatred.
I will do all that I can to hold to your covenant of peace

'Your will not mine be done in all things,
wherever you may place me,
whover my neighbour may be,
Your love be in all that I do
and in all that I may endure.'

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