Dear People of Alnwick,
On Wednesday 20th August about thirty members of our congregation gathered in St. Paulâ€™s Chapel to pray for peace in Israel and Gaza. This small venture was planned at very short notice and I had at least fifteen apologies from others who would have been there but for other commitments.
In the days that followed I had many comments about how people had valued the opportunity to do something positive and how powerful and meaningful that simple act of worship had proved to be.
At the same time, an appeal was made in church over two Sundays to make a financial contribution to the terrible situation there and in excess of Â£320.00 was collected â€“ with Â£150.00 of that sum Gift Aided.
This prayer and financial support was all concentrated on the part of the world where Our Lord walked as the Prince of Peace. How his heart must ache as he sees this continued barbarity and unrest!
He must look down with despair, too, on Iraq, Syria, Southern Sudan, Nigeria, Afganistan and so many other places where innocent people find themselves caught up in situations which are none of their making, and at the mercy of people who have no respect for human life or dignity if it gets in the way of their cause.
Our efforts here in Alnwick may seem insignificant â€“ but they are not. Indeed, if more people turned to God in earnest prayer and gave financial support in the way that we have done in St. Michaelâ€™s, there is no telling how effective that message might be.
During that service of prayer for peace, the following words of the South African theologian, the Revâ€™d Allan Boesak were used:
It is not true that this world and its inhabitants are doomed to die and be lost.
This is true: for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him shall not die but have everlasting life.
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction.
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
It is not true that violence and hatred shall have the last word, and that war and destruction have come to stay forever;
This is true: for to us a child is born, to us a son is given in whom authority will rest and whose name will be Prince of Peace.
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil that rule the world;
This is true: to me is given all authority in heaven and on earth, and lo, I am with you always to the end of the world.
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the church, before we can do anything;
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all people, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young people shall see visions, and your old folk shall dream dreams.
It is not true that our dreams for the liberation of humankind, our dreams of justice, of human dignity, of peace, are not meant for this earth and this history;
This is true: the hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers shall worship God in spirit and truth.
Can I suggest that we all consider these inspirational words calmly and carefully as such awful unrest continues and use them as a basis for our ongoing prayer for peace throughout the world.
With every blessing,