18 January 2020
Responding to Terror
Dear People of St Johns
After the London bombings it is easy for any politicians to stir up suspicion about possible “enemies in our midst” . This is a phrase which raises fear and causes separation and finally hatred building up between peoples. As we approach elections in New Zealand we need to be aware that one cheap electioneering strategy is to raise fear in people then show the solution is to vote for that politician or party.
In the parable of the wheat and the weeds [Matthew 13:24- 30,36- 43] which we looked at recently, we find uprooting evii in our midst is a perilous business. As the landowner in the story points out, it is very easy to find you have destroyed not only the evil, but the good as well. Muslim communities in New Zealand have already reacted with anxiety that in the rush to uproot dangerous fundamentalism perfectly innocent Muslims will be targets for hate crimes. And in this way far more damage is done than the original acts of terror as suspicion increases between communities.
What is a Christian response? One of our basic tasks in our own communities is to be peacemakers [the real costly stuff not just smoothing things over] and to make it possible for barriers between peoples to be broken down.
One underreported but significant immediate response to the London bombings was for the Archbishop of Canterbury to gather religious leaders of all faiths together including Muslim and Jews.
Senior religious leaders joined the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, at Lambeth Palace, to issue a joint statement following the terrorist attacks in London.
This was in the context of the commemoration of 60th anniversary of the end of World War 2.
The leaders were the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Free Churches Moderator, Revd David Coffey, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Sir Jonathan Sacks, and the Chair of the Council of Mosques & Imams, Sheikh Dr Zaki Badawi.
The full statement is below. They expressed the hope that other faith leaders and communities would feel free to associate themselves with the joint statement.
“As religious leaders from several different faiths we came together this morning to pay tribute to the courage, commitment and sacrifice by which the evil of Nazism was resisted and ultimately overcome sixty years ago.
We stand together now for a further purpose: to express our shared commitment to resisting and overcoming the evil of terrorism, which the events of recent days here in London have brought home to us afresh and with such devastating clarity. It is an evil that cannot be justified and that we utterly condemn and reject.
Our hearts go out to those who grieve, those who mourn, and those who wait. We pray for them and with them. We remember the dead, the injured and the missing, as well as all those working to save life and restore health.
We want to signal the common ground on which we stand as faith leaders, and to reaffirm the values we uphold at this time of sorrow and pain. It is vital, when many will be feeling anger, bewilderment and loss, to strengthen those things we hold in common and to resist all that seeks to drive us apart. Central to what we share as people of faith is a belief in God's compassionate love for us. It is a love that compels us to cherish not to disfigure our common humanity.
We commend and embrace the continuing efforts to build a Britain in which different communities—including faith communities—can flourish side by side on the basis of mutual respect and understanding. We pledge ourselves to remain true to this goal in word and deed and to work together to make of it an enduring reality. As we do so, we draw hope and comfort from the certainty that in seeking to overcome our own brokenness we will be working with the pattern of God's design for all his children and for the whole human family.”
This is not a watering down of the Christian faith as so many seem to fear when we engage with those of other faiths, but a working out of God’s purposes for God’s world. When you are in the supermarket, or down the street and casual remarks about other faith groups are made or cheap political points are being scored at the expense of any one group of people. Stop! think, before you go along with it and question whether that is really true? In the parable the “enemy” didn’t need to do anything, it would have been the landowner who would have done all the damage to his own crop.
Those religious leaders invited any who could to associate themselves with their statement – Maybe this is something that we can think about as we go about our business here in Papatoetoe.
May God Bless and keep us in God’s love.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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