Someone close to me was recently the victim of a vicious unprovoked assault.
Shortly afterwards I interceded in a violent altercation between several young men who were hurling foul abusive language at each other, using chairs as weapons while trying to kick each other in the head.
Recently a severely injured fighting cockerel was found abandoned. All these incidents happened in Horsham, in pleasant public spaces where we might expect to feel safe and secure, free from violence.
But the truth is we are not. We live in a culture with a strange mix of fear and glorification of violence. Though violent incidents are rare, there are many people who are afraid to walk alone at night in this town.
The media reports the wide range of violent possibilities hanging over us, from planes open to computer sabotage to the threat of extreme Islamist terrorism. Yet at the same time we watch violent films, play violent computer games, set animals to fight as ‘sport’, and use the language of war to describe the ‘cut and thrust’ of politics. Where is the peace?
I am dismayed whenever I see religion used as a weapon or as a justification of violence. The Church does not have an unblemished record in this regard.
Yet Jesus promised peace to His followers. His peace is more than the absence of violence; rather it is the deep seated conviction of God’s shalom, the peace which goes beyond our understanding and which can sustain us despite all that the violent world might throw at us.
In this Christian season of Ascensiontide and Pentecost, I pray that we will find this peace, and understand that His promise to be with us in all things still holds true. Peace be with you!
The Rev KATH JONES
St Andrew’s Methodist Church, Roffey, and Southwater Community Methodist Church
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