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I dare you to be a peacemaker

November 12, 2016

I’ve been pondering Jesus famous words, “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5.9). I’ve been reading words of peace but I’ve been thinking about war and violence and particularly about the tools of war and violence. As I pondered I realised that I grew up with knives. I was out and about in the woods and hills of Yorkshire, and a knife was a tool for all sorts of things from sharpening sticks to skinning rabbits. A knife was a tool, not a weapon – I even had one on my belt as part of my Scout uniform.

Then I learned to shoot, first airguns, then a rifle, then a shotgun. Again these were fun, but they were tools, not toys. Perhaps this attitude to these deadly weapons comes from my scout leaders, perhaps it comes from my father. My father was PT sergeant; he wouldn’t say much about guns, or knives, except to say that if you are ready to point them at someone, you had better be ready to kill them. A gun, a knife, any weapon is not for show. A serious lesson for which I am very grateful.

But that said I still played commandos with toy guns and knives, but this was always different. They were toys and it never entered my head to play games with my friends with a real knife or a real gun.

As a young child I had already learned the simple lesson of cause and effect – that weapons used on people do terrible things: that weapons kill. I want the same for all children today. I want them to know that war, even wars that aren’t called wars, are brutal.

This is one of the good things that has come out of the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. With all of the media coverage it is hard to turn on the tv without seeing something about the horrors of that conflict – for soldiers, and for those suffering at home. I am not sure I agree with spending so much time remembering the start of a war but I can’t deny that so many children and young adults have been reminded of the seriousness of war – That there is misery and fear and mutilation, as well as death for innocent men, women, children and babies, as well as for soldiers.

I know that young people from our High School go to the First World War battlefields each year, and are never quite the same again. A real lesson has been learned. I know that I still remember my own trip to those battlefields when I was barely into my teens. They remain a haunting reminder of what war can be.

War is horror, not glory. That is why Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5.9). So today I commit myself again to working for peace: To working for peace here between my neighbours, and to supporting those working for peace between countries.

There may come a time again when the only right thing is to go to war. But I pray that soldiers are the last resort, and only that.

As you and I remember the bravery and sacrifice of so many who have fought for the freedoms of this country, in two world wars, and in more recent wars; that as we remember and honour their sacrifice, I ask all of you to do all that you can to work for peace. If you share my faith, then work for peace knowing that it is the call of Jesus spoken to you. If you don’t share my faith in God, then still work for peace for the good of all in this country, indeed for the good of all.

Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the children of God. Whether you believe or not I dare you to be a peacemaker – someone who makes this world a better place.

  1. jean black permalink

    Very true and thought provocing

  2. Verona McWhinney permalink

    Amen Nigel.
    We are collecting clothes for Syria and Iraq , with winter fast approaching there will be a great need for warm clothing, shoes and blankets. Our next shipment will be leaving mid January and we wondered if you could announce this. If you require more details please let me know.

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