Tom Writes..

Tom Writes...November 2018

On 11 November 2018, at 5:00 am, an armistice with Germany was signed in a railroad carriage near Compiègne in Northern France.  Six hours later, at 11am on 11 November 1918—"the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month"—a ceasefire came into effect.  After 4 years and 107 days, during which time an estimated 16 million people died as a direct result of the war, the guns were silenced and peace was restored. Tom, Ringland
It is of course important that we commemorate the 100th anniversary of that armistice this month. Crucially important to remember the sacrifice and suffering of soldiers and their families on an unimaginable scale – and crucially important because far from being a war to end all wars, bloody conflicts have raged ever since.  We still need to learn peace.  Peace between nations, peace between individuals and peace within our own hearts.
Peace is a complex matter – it can be imposed by the victorious side; (in warfare it usually is) – but an imposed peace can be resented and resisted.  Of course, a little over 20 years on, the Nazis stoked resentments and the nations were at war again.
It takes a lot of time and commitment to overcome the many grievances and injustices arising from a time of conflict.  Think of the years of work done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reviewing the apartheid years in South Africa – and similar work making desperately slow progress in Northern Ireland.  It’s not dissimilar at a personal level: think of when a hurt has deeply fractured a family … healing can take immense perseverance and sacrifice.  But it’s worth it!
We should note that peace is more than the simple absence of conflict.  Capitulation from one side in a relationship, be it personal or national, only brings a partial peace.  There needs to be mutual respect and the determination for mutual co-operation, even friendship, if a lasting peace is to be established. 
The Bible names Jesus ‘the Prince of Peace’ – (it’s a title you may hear in some of our Christmas services).  Since, evidently, we are unable to build a just and effective peace by ourselves, how can we afford to disregard the witness of the angels and not turn for the assistance of the Prince of Peace?
The fundamental peace that Jesus Christ brings, is peace with heaven – with God himself. Peace between ourselves and the Lord God; between the Creator and His wayward creation. And that spills over, so, by God’s mercy, we can become bringers of peace – peace-makers …
So many people gave their lives that we might enjoy peace: when we weaken in the quest for peace we diminish those sacrifices.  Remember the words from the past: ‘for your tomorrow we gave our today’.
So just nine words from Colossians Chapter 3 and verse 15 for us to take to heart: -
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.
That is, (in a few more words) permit, or choose to allow, the peace that is found in Christ, to have pride of place and authority, deep within your being.
In so doing, we honour God, we respect the fallen and we discover life in greater abundance.

Tom