Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday 13th Nov, Paris, Beirut

Banksy's art - Peace for Paris

whose love has no borders
in the face of tragedy
the loss of innocence
we have few words

only deep sorrow

the silence of lament

at the hate in our world
at the fear in our hearts
at the loss of life
the crushing of hope
the breaking of peace

We rage at all who 
recklessly or coldly
take others lives
No matter which side
No matter what cause
We grieve for
those caught in the middle
We can but imagine
how you weep for your world

We pray for the Muslim people of Paris and Beirut
those who simply wish to live in peace
We pray for the people of Syria and Iraq and Lebanon
those who simply wish to live in peace
We pray for leaders on all sides of these conflicts
may they simply wish to live in peace

Yet you call us to pray for all people
even those we would think of as enemies
all who seek power instead of peace
We pray for
for a change of mind, a change of heart
As so we pray now in silence

whose love has no borders
We seek understanding
We crave compassion
We yearn for hope
We long for peace

Lord have mercy 
on all your children
Hear our sadness
Heal our world

(Craig Mitchell)

World Council of Churches and Middle East Council of Churches on bombings in a crowded civilian shopping area in Beirut, Lebanon. 
The twin bombings on the evening of Thursday 12 November took 41 lives—the largest number of casualties since the Lebanese civil war 25 years ago—and injured more than 200 persons. Responsibility for the bombings was claimed by the so-called ‘Islamic State´.
The statement from MECC (Middle East Council of Churches), which is based in Beirut, condemned the bombings as terrorist violence and expressed sympathy for the victims. “We ask the Lord to heal the grief and pains of their families, and to bless a rapid recovery for the wounded,” it said.
“The Middle East Council of Churches also calls on all those in charge in Lebanon to overcome internal conflicts among themselves and to be united in front of terrorism, which threatens all the Lebanese regardless of their sectarian and political affiliation.”
WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, also expressed consternation over the violence. “The people of Lebanon have struggled for a generation to build a stable and open democracy. Extremist violence such as this destroys not only precious lives and families but also threatens the social solidarity the Lebanese people have worked so hard to build. It is despicable that such violence is perpetrated in the name of religion. I extend our prayers and our heartfelt sympathy to the victims and their families. And I urge all parties to exercise restraint and to renounce violence and terror in favour of a just and peaceful future for the Lebanese people and all peoples in the region.”

Wisdom from Dave Andrews 
Dear Muslims And Non-Muslims - Embrace one another. Open your arms to make space for the other, to welcome one another. Wrap your arms around each other, to comfort one another, and to keep one another safe. For it is most important to do it, when it is most difficult to do. Dave. 
Today I met with a Sunni leader who told me he once would have described himself as a “Salafist”. The Salafi movement is often described as being the same as the Wahhabi movement, but Salafists consider the term "Wahhabi" derogatory. The Salafi movement is an ultra-conservative orthodox movement within Sunni Islam that references the doctrine known as “Salafism” that can be summed up as ‘a fundamentalist approach to Islam emulating the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers — al-salaf al-salih, the “pious forefathers”.’ Salafists, are associated with a strict, closed approach to their religion, that typically regards non-Muslims, like me, as enemies of Islam. Yet here we were, talking about a meeting at the Apex Mosque that he had arranged for me to speak at! 
I asked Iyad how it had come to pass that he had changed to such a degree that he would invite me – whom he once would have considered an enemy of Islam - to speak on a Friday night at his mosque.He told me that it all started when he had to migrate to the U.S. after the invasion by Iraq of Kuwait. Settling in America, he had to rub shoulders with non-Muslims every day. Iyad said it was a slow process, but gradually he began to move beyond his default closed-mind-set and really open himself up to the ‘others’ who were around him. As he did so, he says, he realised that many of ‘them’ were not ‘kaffar’ - or ‘unbelievers’ - as he had been led to believe. And when Iyad eventually met Thomas, and others from the Peace Catalyst movement, who are sincerely committed to peacemaking and promoting reconciliation between Christians and Muslims, he said he found in ‘them’ other people of faith pretty much like ‘us’. So it was, when Thomas suggested to Iyad that the Apex mosque host a meeting with me to discuss ‘The Jihad Of Jesus’ he said he was more than happy to arrange it.
About 75 of us, 50 Muslims and 25 Christians, gathered for the meeting at the mosque tonight. With the news coming out of France, of extremists killing over 150 people, we started our meeting at the mosque in prayer for all those who have suffered and will suffer as a result of this attack. We acknowledged both sides are afraid. Non-Muslims fear more explosions. Muslims fear more reprisals. We affirmed that we all believe, ideally, that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Christians believe we should 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' and Muslims believe we should 'Do unto all people as you would they should do to you'. But the reality is, that in these circumstances, our fear of one another often dissipates our capacity to love one another. ‘When fear arises, we harden our bodies and our hearts, closing inward to protect ourselves. We build walls, call up armies, and pay governments to protect us from danger as we try to minimise the risks.’ 
There was another time in history when people ‘were together, hiding behind locked doors because they were afraid. And Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you! Be not afraid!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. And again Jesus said, "Peace be with you!” And then he said to them, "As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” (John 20 v 19-20) It would seem that Jesus knows where to find us at times like these. He seeks us out wherever we are 'hiding, behind our locked doors.' I don't know how he does it, but somehow or other he manages to walk through the walls we hide behind, and he speaks to us now as he spoke to them then, saying, "Be not afraid.” A saying that is repeated over three hundred times in the bible. "Be not afraid. Be not afraid." He says, "God is love. Being held safe in the ever-lasting, never-failing arms of the perfect love of God means you have no reason to be afraid”. He says to both Muslims and Non-Muslims alike, “Salam Alaykum. Peace be with you. Receive my spirit”. “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” "As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” To embrace one another. To open your arms to make space for the other, to welcome one another. To wrap your arms around each other, to comfort one another, and to keep one another safe. And Iyad said, ‘it is most important to do it, when it is most difficult to do’. 

A Prayer for All Days
Christ of the Cross,
In the face of terror, may we seek calm.
In the face of violence, may we have the strength for peace.
In a climate of hate, may we draw upon compassion.
ln the chaos of mistrust, may we strive hard for understanding.
When consumed by the fire of suffering, may we find release of care and kindness.
When confronted by evil, may we resist with good.
When filled with grief, pour out your love.
When strife and wrongness is afoot in the world, be with all who suffer.
This we pray.

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