Mild Mannered Meanderings

Conversation with Chip on the way home from church:

“Mummy, I’m the only one in my class at school who is a Christian.”

Me: “Are you? How do you know?”

Chip: “I’m the only one who goes to church.”

Me: “Oh, ok.”

Chip: “Amelia is a… she’s a… something-or-other Christian. A Viking Christian.”

Me (suppressing a laugh): “A Viking Christian? Are you sure?”

Chip (hesitant): “Maybe… Er… It’s something like a Viking Christian… A Saxon Christian? A Catholic Saxon?”

Me (unable to suppress the laugh any longer): “Do you mean a Roman Catholic?”

Chip: “Yes! But she doesn’t go to church.”

An End to Violence: Where is the Olive Branch?

I began praying for Israel and the Middle East several years ago. I pray for strength and courage for those who face terrible situations, I pray for the work of Mama Maggie in Egypt, and I pray for peace.

 

The olive branch                                           ~ a universal symbol of peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”*

 

The situation in Israel and Palestine is sad beyond words. It is tempting to want to portray one side as ‘good’ and the other as ‘bad’. After all, this makes any response much easier… but this is the real world. There are no such things as ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ unless you’re nine years old. Humanity is too complex, and ultimately too frail, to be viewed in this simplistic manner. There have been acts of good and bad on both sides. Evil has warped (some of ) the minds of both Israelis and Palestinians. My brothers and sisters in Christ who happen to be Palestinian have been on the receiving end of Israeli violence just as much as their Muslim neighbours.

he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” **

 

I wonder what would have happened if, during the decades of terrorism of the IRA at the end of the 20th century, Britain had bombed Dublin? Would there not have been international outcry? When I was a little girl my father’s London office was blown up by the IRA. If the bomb had gone off at the right time it would have killed hundreds of men and women who had nothing whatsoever to do with the political situation, my daddy included. I was at a railway station the day another bomb was due to go off. If the bomb had killed my dad, would I have wanted revenge? If the other bomb had killed me, would my family have wanted revenge? It is a natural response, but in Israel and Palestine, just as in Britain and Ireland, violence never solved anything. It never will. Violence leads to violence, which leads to more and more innocent victims  – be they Jewish, Muslim, Christian or none of the above. As I said the other day in my post about the turmoil elsewhere in the Middle East, evil begets evil. It has to stop.

 

When Love was flogged, when Love was spat upon, when Love was ridiculed and stripped naked and forced to walk to His place of execution, when Love was bound and nailed to a cross, He did not declare war or vengeance. Love could have called down all the angels of heaven with fire and trumpets and wrath. But He didn’t. Instead, the voice of Love said, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”

 

Please join me in praying for peace and a lasting end to violence.

 

‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.’****

 

* John 14:27

**Luke 10:29

***Luke 23:34

**** Galatians 3:28

The Earnest Sledgehammer

The sledgehammer of righteousness?

Getting carried away by one’s earnestness, one’s zeal, is easily done, especially as a young Christian, or as an older person new to Christ. It happens with those of us who should know better, too, on occasion: we bring a sledgehammer, name it ‘righteousness’ and use it to suppress, even to oppress, those whom we should be reaching out to in love. We pretend that following Christ is about sticking to (our) particular set of rules, rather than recognising the freedom from sin that is a gift of Grace.

In ‘Longing for God’ the author writes:

‘…we too want to imitate Jesus… But imitation is a tricky thing. It easily becomes so superficial, so outward. It is easy to see this in the ‘disciples’ of our contemporary celebrity figures… we quickly fall into the same trap. We so want to be like Jesus and so desperately try to follow the way of Jesus that… we end up in some silly, superficial mimicry that has nothing to do with righteousness and peace and joy…’

   ~ Longing for God, Richard Foster & Gayle Beebe

(highlighting is my own)

I am also reminded of these words from the book of James, which I read last week:

‘Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God… 

…You can’t pick and choose in these things, specialising in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder?

…Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.’

James 2:5-13, The Message

(underlining is my own)