Praying For Peace
I was watching the BBC news today and could not quite believe my ears at what I heard as the report showed a service to commemorate the war effort of British troops in Afghanistan. Actually, I rewound the report to check that I heard correctly and I did; the Arch Bishop of Canterbury said that ‘we will now bless this cross made of artillery shells, brought back from Afghanistan,’ which was then brought forward during the service.
Now I know to some this will sound controversial but I, personally, just don’t get it. Blessing a cross made of artillery shells strikes me as being a bit of an oxymoron. I take nothing away from the bravery of the British troops. I make no comment on the politics of the need for our troops to have been there in the first place and I am not criticising the fact that a service was held. I just think that after 2,000 years I can’t quite believe that we still don’t always get what the Cross is all about. God’s own Son died on a Cross for the sins of the world and never lifted a finger, let alone an artillery shell, against his enemies. The Cross is, arguably, the most important Christian symbol that we have. When I see it in the shape of a sword or made of artillery shells – I despair. Rant over!
One group of people who did get it, i.e., the meaning of the Cross, were the early Anabaptists:-
“The Anabaptist movement had its genesis as the radical wing of the Protestant Reformation. It began in Zurich in 1525 when a small group of men and women gathered to baptise one another…The Anabaptists were hunted down and persecuted by both the Catholic and Protestant authorities for their baptism of adults as well as their rejection of the sword, swearing oaths and their focus on evangelism”.
Many of them refused to support Luther in fighting against the advancing Turks so they were burned, hanged, drowned etc. for their convictions. That, to me, sounds a lot like following in the foot-steps of Christ. To this day, those who follow the Anabaptist tradition are known for their pacifism and peace keeping which is a big part of their spirituality.
Whether you share my disdain or not, and I expect some will have a different view, surely we can agree that it is right to pray for peace. As Colossians 1 says:
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross…(Colossians 1:19-20)
A Mennonite Prayer for Peace
Our loving, patient, and generous God:
Because we are confident in your power and love, we sense the freedom to lament, to cry to you, and to ask with the martyrs under the altar: How long will it be… (Rev. 6:10)?
Because we rejoice in your goodness and justice, we ask that you transform the hearts, minds, and souls of those powers that cause untold suffering and injustice.
Because we are mindful of your promises to forgive, we confess our complicity and solidarity in so many ways with the evils perpetrated on human beings also created in your image.
Because we know of your faithfulness, we commit ourselves to you so that your creation can again reflect the glory of your purposes.
As your people we pray: May it be so. Amen.