Praying For Peace And Justice
Sunday 24th June 2012The Archbishop of York today writes his Sun column on the issue of praying for Peace and Justice, seeing the potential in others; and carrying the torch. His column follows in full...
Praying for Peace and Justice
If you’d been in prison for years, and were suddenly set free, what would you want to do with your life?
Like Nelson Mandela, who was in prison for 27 years, Aung San Suu Kyi, was under house arrest in Burma for nearly 20 years before her release two years ago. Both these great fighters for freedom came out of prison and used their liberty to work for peace and forgiveness.
This week, Aung San Suu Kyi was in London and I heard her speak movingly to both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall, about the struggle of her country for the right to participate in government, which here we often take for granted. There the people now have a passion for democracy born of a hunger long denied. Shaking my hand, as she left, she said, “Thank you for praying for all of us. Please continue your prayers as we walk into justice and freedom.”
We are blessed by many freedoms in this country, and it is very important to use them creatively to build peace and kindness. Too often people use the freedom they have to oppress others, whether it is leaders of countries, or cyber-bullies, using the freedom of the internet, to harass and wear down their chosen subjects, like a pack of wolves.
The special prayer for this Sunday says:
“Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father: give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God”
We are all held in captivity by sin (love that has turned in on itself). And in fact, we may be so used to this captivity that we just don’t realise that our bad behaviour or attitudes are making a prison of our lives. But the good news is that we may be set free by the God of love. Free to live our lives in peace and service, so that not just we, but everyone, can be free.
Seeing the Potential in Others
Sometimes, when I’ve found myself in a bad place, I’ve prayed, “Dear God – if you just come close and get me out of here, I’ll do whatever you desire – I’ll try to be more generous.”
I wish I could say that I live out this promise one hundred percent!
It is a constant struggle to stay close to God, be true to myself as I learn to keep the company of Jesus Christ. I know what God the Father has commanded me to do. And that God the Son has shown me how to do it. Daily I am in need of the Holy Spirit to live life to the full. But, but...
In the bible there is a story of a woman who longed to have a baby and she prayed for years and years. Eventually God answered her prayer, and she dedicated the little boy to God’s work. His name was Samuel, and he became one of the greatest judges and prophets of his time.
Who knows what will happen if we dedicate our gifts so that God can use them?
There was an old schoolmaster who always used to bow respectfully to his pupils before he taught them. When he was asked why, he answered, “You never know what one of these young people will turn out to be.” Every child is a bundle of possibilities, and any one of us might be in a position to be an influence for good or bad, to stifle or to encourage these possibilities.
May we look at each other, and treat one another as people of great and amazing potential.
Carrying the Torch
What do 12 year-old Yasmin Boff from Gloucester, 22 year-old Faye Richardson from Shetland, 34 year-old Didier Drogba from the Ivory Coast, and 74 year-old Clive Warley from York, have in common?
They have all been carriers of the Olympic flame, passing on the flame as it travels the length and breadth of our country. Today it is travelling through west London, and last Tuesday we cheered it through the streets of York - all excited about joining together to see this symbol of peace and unity.
We know all too well that this country is notorious for dodgy weather, and the torchbearers have had to tackle not only difficult terrain, but rain and hail and wind. They must have worried that the flame would die. But through all its travels it has been kept burning. There has always been someone there to make sure that it carries on.
The flame of the Good News of God’s love for us in Christ has been passed on for over 2000 years now. If one generation had decided not to do their ‘leg’ of the race, if it all looked too difficult or uncomfortable, the torch would have gone out. But, praise God, whatever the storms of life throughout those centuries, there have always been people ready to take up the challenge and carry the flame; ready to pass it on. May we continue to be ready to carry the torch of God’s love and peace into the future.
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