Historically speaking we are living in a period of peace, tolerance, safety and compassion. Never before in human history have so many people across the world enjoyed such pleasant conditions we are told by recent research which you might find surprising.
Despite the advent of 24 hours news telling us otherwise, there is less murder, less robbery, less bigotry and hatred, and less intolerance now than ever before.
I can see you looking at me doubtfully in disbelief, but ‘hold on’ as we consider today’s Gospel, where we reflect on the Lord’s prayer, the understanding of the disciples in response to Jesus’s message of reassurance and the inauguration of the church community., “that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them”.
When we hear today’s Gospel we need to go back to John’s prologue, where in it’s panoramic vision, explains that Jesus came to live among his own, but his own neither saw him or knew him. Now he is talking to those who accept him, and God abides with them “my home is in you, and I will remain with you”
The word is the spirit of the church as we look towards Ascension time and Pentecost and in finding a new way to stay. Jesus is speaking to his disciples in advance, is telling them about what is going to happen after his death and glory, which they will eventually grasp.
He is really talking about the living bond of love, but at this stage, it is enough to call out his disciples love for him, the kind of love that is open and welcoming to the invitation of God in Christ.”Come stay in my love”. It is the kind of love that commits itself in trust, before it has full knowledge of where that might lead.
These are timely considerations as we approach the Feast of the Ascension & Pentecost, when we consider especially what is currently happening in Allepo, Syria, Iraq, Bagdad, Where Christians are being murdered, beheaded, and the Christian community has been reduced to 10,0000 from 60,000 people a decimated place here and now.
We have to hold onto the belief and certainty that this is not how God intended his creation to be, blind prejudice, fundamentalist political distortion of Islam, murdering of the innocent men, women, children, babies, doctors and nurses and a paediatrician in a hospital can never be accepted or justified.
The vine and the branches pruned Jesus and his disciples, you and I today in 2016. What does God want of us at this present time and in the difficult circumstances which we live globally?
Our obsession with information and minute by minute news has given people surprisingly a greater ability to empathise with others of whom we otherwise would have had little or no knowledge of. I would suggest that this understanding is contributing to a more compassionate world, how ever hard it is for us to engage with it, understand it or comprehend what is happening.
MP’s last week voted unanimously to declare the actions of Islamic State [IS] against religious minorities in the Middle East as genocide, a move the politicians, Christians and other world faith communities welcomed.
Since last week’s vote pressure has mounted on the government to make an immediate referral to the UN Security Council.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said the commons had recognised the tragedy suffered by the people of Syria and across the Middle East. Stopping the violence against Christians, Moslems, Jews and other minority faith communities requires international assistance.
The Anglican Bishop of Shrewsbury called on the government to recognise the genocide of religious minorities, and to also refer the case to the UN and the International Criminal Court.
The Prime Minister & the President of the USA are being asked to do more internationally for the Syrian people caught up in the violence and destruction of war, and rightly so.
Moslems, Jews and Christian communities have said, that welcoming the stranger takes courage, but by doing so outweighs the challenges we all face. We will now welcome 3,000 vulnerable children from the camps of the Middle East & North Africa, in addition to the pledged 20,000 Syrians. They are our brothers & sisters, parents, extended family members, sons and daughters how could we do less.
May we light a candle in church and keep it burning every time we say mass for the suffering people of Syria / Iraq / Afghanistan / Libya / Yemen / Israel-Palestine / suffering refugees by land and sea, and prayer for all victims of war, until peace with justice, self respect and determination is achieved for all.
Asciontide & Pentecost calls upon us for a greater global vision. It is the whole of creation made whole and fully integrated. There is no language yet for such a world regarding what it would look like, but light, glory and the adoration of God is a good start at this time, that the Risen Ascended & glorified Lord can live in each one of us today and everyday, so that our world can literally be transformed and we can again live in peace and harmony, anything less in our prayers and desires is not sufficient I believe.
Fr David Ingledew