Sunday, 3 August 2014

Praying for peace

Centenary of WW1
100 years ago today, Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey said : "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.
The following day, Britain embarked on the First World War, a conflict lasting 4 years and costing the lives of over 16 million men, women and children and the maiming or injuring of over 20 million.
The First World War was to be the war that ended all war.
But, as we know, that was not the case, neither on these shores or elsewhere in the world.
People are being asked to embrace the symbolism of lighting a candle between 10 and 11 tomorrow night to encourage a period of reflection on human sacrifice and the cost of war.
This is not an Act of Remembrance such as that we observe at Armistice in November though, of course, there are elements of Remembrance.
Rather, the focus of a lit candle, is a  reflection of hope for future generations.
That is made all the more difficult, all the more poignant and all the more vital with the vast amount of conflicts raging in our world today.
Many years ago when I sat Higher English, one of the set texts was  Sunset Song, part of A Scots Quair by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
These words come from Sunset Song:
They went quiet and brave from the lands they loved, though seldom of that love might they speak, it was not in them to tell in words of the earth that moved and lived and abided, their life and enduring love. And who knows at the last what memories of it were with them, the springs and the winters of this land and all the sounds and scents of it that had once been theirs, deep, and a passion of their blood and spirit, those who died in France? With them we may say there died a thing older than themselves...
A new generation will come up that knows them not, except as a memory in a song...
They died for a world that is past, these men, but they did not die for this that we seem to inherit. Beyond it and us there shines a greater hope and a newer world, undreamt when these men died.

Beyond it and us there shines a greater hope and a newer world.
Still,that world has not been realised.
Still folk are forced from their homes and their lands as war continues. 
Still tribes and nations are decimated and the poor and the vulnerable are forever victims.
More than ever before,this generation has to continue the hope and the dream of a world without war.

And so if our commemorating the centenary of the First World War is to be anything more than patriotic symbolism, with our lighting of a candle, must come a commitment to relight those lamps - in our lifetime.

Let us pray
God we confess today that we have short memories
and little ambition for massive change.
We settle for the confusion of lies and propaganda
that salves our conscience
and allows us to sleep at night.
Confront us with our responsibility
and with our culpability.
We who claim to long for peace
don't recognise true peace when we see it.
We who claim to love our neighbour
fail to see your face in one another.
And we who claim to love justice
do not understand the complexity of conflict.
We would balk at embracing an economy
unsupported by the wages of war.
God open our eyes, our minds and our hearts 
until we see as you see
And, fuelled by your understanding
and your compassion
resolve to love one another.
May we see the light of peace
dawn upon our world
in our time
God of all creation,
Prince of peace.

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