Nigerian Civil War Remembrance Service

Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal, Honorary President of the Fellowship of Reconciliation was invited to share a message with the Overseas Fellowship of Nigerian Christians.

Read his full sermon beneath or watch the service via the link above:

RECONCILIATION: NIGERIAN REMEMBRANCE DAY SERVICE, 09/01/2021

Sisters and Brothers, I greet you all in the Name of Christ and wish upon you the peace and blessings of God.

It is an honour to worship and pray with you today.

I want to thank those who have arranged and managed this very powerful act of witness.

The peace of God on us, and the peace of God on all those who have died in war.

We acknowledge the pain and suffering.

We recognise that war diminishes us all, it reveals the horrors to which human beings can descend, and war is an assault on the Image of God in which we are all created, and therefore a sacrilege.

We commit ourselves again to play our part and contribute to the work of forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and healing.

I oppose war, and support non-violent resolution of all conflict.

We meet close to Epiphany Day, which honours the wisdom of all nations.

The message of the Gospel writers, and the early church, is that the helpless refugee child, not Caesar armed to the teeth, reveals the path to salvation.

We look here for the light of grace that enlightens everyone, as we seek to address the challenges that face us.

We have confidence, as our reading says, that old ways can pass away, there is “new creation”, for it is always the work of God to make all things new.

This is the hope of a ministry of peace and reconcile;iation.

I offer you a short meditation on reconciliation.

In the reading from Scripture, we heard that we are called to be “ambassadors for Christ”, to make God’s appeal through us.

What does this mean?

What wisdom do we draw from Christ and the Gospel of Christ?

In the very first instance, before we challenging anyone else, we ourselves are to be “reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20), to be people who have made peace with God, and are at peace in ourselves.

If you carry peace in your own being you are better equipped to bring peace to others.

Love yourself, so that you can love God, and your neighbour, as yourself.

Being reconciled to God means we are one with God.

Being one with God means to embody God, and to reflect God’s way.

God’s way, as revealed in Christ, is to be in solidarity with humanity, without discrimination, to be inclusive of all people, to feel the hurts and pain of humanity, to hold out the spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and healing, and always, to keep the possibilities of new beginnings, and hope alive.

 What then is the distinctive contribution of the followers of Jesus, and of the Gospel of Christ to the work of forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and healing?

There are four key elements and movements of the Gospel of Christ, namely:

  • Incarnation: affirming that God is with us
  • Ministry of Christ: a ministry of hospitality and healing
  • Crucifixion: recognising the passion, pain and cost of reconciliation
  • Resurrection: embracing hope, new life and direction, always

First then, Incarnation: God is with us

This is the good news.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

God is One, and is one with people, with all our immense diversity, without discrimination.

In love, forgiveness, grace and generosity God reaches out to a fallen, failing, selfish humanity.

God honours all people, for all are made in the Image of God.

In Christ, God has done the work of “reconciling the world to himself”; God reflects the humility of taking the first step in reconciliation, “without counting human trespasses against them” and “entrusting the message of reconciliation” to us (2 Corinthians 5:19).

In the birth of Christ, God embraces the powerlessness and vulnerability of a new born child.

A child is born with empty hands.

The first requirement in a movement of reconciliation is that weapons are put away, we come to each with empty hands.

I’m sure you have your favourite Christmas Hymns or Carols.

I like Charles Wesley’s Hymn “Let earth and heaven combine”, and especially the lines: “He deigns in flesh to appear, widest extremes to join” (StF 208).

Focus on the words “widest extremes to join”.

It is possible for God and humanity to be joined, to be one.

Widest extremes can join.

When Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa, he made his former enemy F. W. De Klerk of the National Party his Deputy.

Some of you may recall the handshake between two extreme enemies, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness at the beginning of the Good Friday Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland.

People of widest extremes apart can be friends, can be reconciled, and work together.

We, as people of any nation, church denomination, or congregation are a rich mixture of people, and of many ethnicities and tribes.

We have all the range of diversities, not least the widest extremes in terms of theology.

With our diversity, we are called and committed to a ministry of constructive dialogue and reconciliation.

We want to enable each other to grow and flourish in our relationships.

We do so in the confidence and strength of the good news, God is with us, and when we take the path off reconciliation, of bringing people together, we are taking God’s path. It is a path of holiness.

Secondly, we emulate the Ministry of Christ: it is a ministry of hospitality and healing, not hatred or hurt.

The ministry and practice of Christ was characterised by being a hospitable and healing presence. Jesus had a ministry of hospitality and healing, not harming or hostility.

Jesus’ ministry is revealed as a ministry of

  • Mending hurts
  • Doing good
  • Including the outsider
  • Welcoming the stranger
  • Clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison, sharing food with the hungry and water with the thirsty

Jesus was born empty handed and we never hear of him carrying anything in his hands. He was certainly free of weapons.

Jesus kept an open table, he welcomed all to eat with him, he especially welcomed those who felt most excluded by social, religious or political discrimination.

In ministries of reconciliation, It is essential to build shared, safe spaces where people of different backgrounds can meet, listen to each other in dialogue, share our brokenness and hurts, and feel each other’s points of hurt and grief.

This is relevant in our world characterised by increased military budgets.

Currently the world is spending almost $2,000 billion on military.

This cost cannot be justified in our world of hunger and harm.

We need hospitals, homes, schools.

War as a strategy has failed and is an out-of-date approach to conflict resolution.

We call for commitments and actions consistent with the hospitable and healing ministry and practice of Jesus.

Hospitality offers a better way to respond to difference, transcending social borders, and expressing respect especially for people excluded from the benefits of belonging.

Hospitality offers bread, not bullets and bombs.

Hospitality is a way of non-violence, seeking to bring all participants in any conflict to the table of hospitality and shared dialogue.

The Latin root for reconciliation (CONCILIUM) points to a deliberate process in which conflicting parties meet “in council”, in conversation. Reconciliation is rooted in community, and is the work of communities.

It is important to foster reconciliation in communities, in congregations.

This is the experience of communities of reconciliation such as Corrymeela Community ion Northern Ireland, which has spent 50 years bringing people of opposing backgrounds together for dialogue.

The founder of Corrymeela, the Rev Ray Davey, was fond of saying that if we Christians do not speak of reconciliation, we have nothing to say.

Let me take some of you to Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland soon to learn from their experience.

The third focus of Gospel witness is Crucifixion: reflecting the passion and cost of the cross

The message of the cross is that nothing worth doing is without cost.

There is a cost involved in exercising the ministry of reconciliation.

Jesus was tortured and persecuted and rejected.

Jesus died denied, betrayed and abandoned even by his closest friends.

Being peacemakers and people of reconciliation will not bring you necessarily to a peaceful and tranquil life.

Peace building and reconciliation is hard work and a long road.

Small Christian communities in Panjab, on the borders of India and Pakistan, constantly face threats to their existence, but remain constant under trying circumstances. They bear witness to Christ in environments where the majorities are Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

No doubt this can be said of small Christian communities in border lands in Nigeria. Their witness is courageous, and costly.

The ministry of reconciliation is costly and you will have your opponents.

Think about the people best remembered for their non-violence teaching (Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero).

They were killed by opponents.

In a speech in Belfast in 2013 President Barak Obama said it is harder work to make peace.

This is the experience of peace and reconciliation workers in Northern Ireland. They all knew what Mr Obama was saying. All peace activists know and have known this.

So peace-making is hard work. It is not a soft option.

It is a long and winding road, a long term, and difficult task.

It requires hard listening and conversation.

The road is not smooth, it is lumpy, uneven, crooked. This is the uneven ground on which strangers and friends, families and familiar faces cross over to meet each other to address matters of justice and mercy and humility.

It is Gospel wisdom that we have to bear the cross. It is the pathway to resurrection and hope.

With the cross at the centre of our existence, we are called to model leadership that handles power with redemptive love, with a capacity to share and give up power, always seeking to empower others.

The ministry of forgiveness and healing and reconciliation carries what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “the cost of discipleship”.

Fourthly, Resurrection: and the hope held and proclaimed in the resurrection

The resurrection stories in the Gospels insist that there is always a good way ahead.

There is always more. Resurrection calls us never to give up hope.

Always remain hopeful, even in the worst of circumstances.

We acknowledge that the wounds of the past can never be covered up and hidden.

The resurrection narrative recognises this as the risen Christ invites Thomas to reach out and touch the scars of his wounds in his hands and side.

Wounds can heal, but the scars and marks of the hurt remain. These have to be acknowledged.

In the depths of the scandal of apartheid Archbishop Desmond Tutu insisted that good will overcome evil, that truth will not be suppressed by falsehood.

I recall him and his colleagues challenging the might of South African military with Bibles in their hands.

He used to say to the Apartheid Government: “You may have the guns. You may have all this power. But you have already lost. Come, join the winning side”.

But he never lifted a weapon.

Reflect on your life and all the situations in which you feel you are at your wits end, at a dead end, stuck, and not sure of which way to turn next.

The Gospel insists, do not despair or give in.

Always remain hopeful.

Resurrection proclaims that there is a way out of the impasse.

According to John’s Gospel, the disciples had been fishing and had nothing to show for all their efforts, they were ready to give up, but in the wisdom of Christ they were shown a way forward.

The ministry of reconciliation brings the confidence that new beginnings are possible, it is a ministry that never ends, never gives up and always keeps hope alive.

Reconciliation brings us to be new creation, and give new life (2 Corinthians 5:5-21).

These four moments of the Gospel encapsulate the distinctive mission and ministry expressed and exercised in the Name of Christ.

It is a ministry strengthened and sustained by the Holy Spirit of God. 

Concluding remarks on reconciliation

Reconciliation is rooted in the stories of faith, and the gift of faith communities is to place greater value on reconciliation, and to uphold and proclaim a vision of reconciliation in our world.

From beginning to its conclusion, the Bible records and reflects Gods continuing reconciling work in the history of a people on a journey, constantly desiring nothing less than a restoration and renewal of the relationship with God, within their own being and relationships, and ultimately the renewal of all creation.

There is a claim in the New Testament that this journey reaches a climax in the decisive revelation of God in Jesus Christ, following which God’s work of reconciliation moves to a new level towards renewing and building a “new heaven and a new earth” realising the fullest potential of all creation.

There is an inseparable link between reconciliation and the stories of creation, crucifixion and the consummation of all creation. 

God never gives up on the work of reconciliation and calls us to share in this work [2 Corinthians 5:18-19].

The ministry of reconciliation includes set-backs, frustrations and enormous costs, and sacrifices involved.

Reconciliation is built on repentance, forgiveness, the willingness to change, to restore and renew relationships, and to live with more grace and generosity without giving up.

Reconciliation is not simply a matter of achieving integration by assimilation and erosion of differences.

Reconciliation requires holding and healing each other through remembering, sharing stories of hurt, arriving at repentance, forgiveness, and a commitment to living with more grace and generosity. It embraces economic, ecumenical and environmental justice.

Within this breadth of reconciliation, we are all called to make a modest contribution and play our part, and to value the contribution others make however small.

We dare to hope for and dream of a different society, a decent society where all people can be safe, flourish and have equal opportunity, and enjoy the fullness of life; where different parties agree to be in an open and honest relationship in which they can share openly and honestly in what are undoubtedly difficult conversations.

A reconciled society will not be one without differences and disagreements but it will be one where division is not destructive because there is a shared commitment to the enhancement of life for all.

We will not give up on reconciliation.

The Dalai Lama said during a visit to Northern Ireland:

“Reconciliation. We have no alternative or option. Violence is suicide.”

The Gospel of Christ expresses confidence in God who is revealed in Christ’s birth, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection.

So live your life as “ambassadors” of this Gospel ministry of reconciliation, and encourage this lifestyle in all life and conflict at local and wider level. And you will help to build a better world.

Inderjit Bhogal

9 January 2021

The Light Shines in the Darkness

A Christmas message from Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal

I have thinking about the new mantra: “light at the end of the tunnel” and the Christmas hope. There is promising news of vaccines that may help to prevent covid infections. We all welcome this good news and hope they will be effective and available to everyone. Light at the end of the tunnel?

The Christmas message however insists “the light shines IN the darkness” (John 1:5). These words express the vision and hope of a small band of Jesus’ earliest followers. They were in a kind of lockdown (John 20:19). They were few, lived in fear, and wondered what the future held.

The Christmas story calls us to re-examine the way we speak of darkness. It insists that the greatest illuminations is found where darkness is profound. Here we discern the light that enlightens everyone and everything, and learn that darkness and light are both alike in God (Psalm 139:12). 

We are living in extraordinary times of illumination in the midst of our personal situations, local realities and global events. The key lesson being learned is that decisions are more likely to be correct if you start by focussing on, and asking, where the hurt is deep and who is the most vulnerable?

Not Caesar on a throne, armed to the teeth, but the helpless baby in the manger, soon a child refugee in Egypt and in danger, reveals the path to salvation.

Look here for the light that shines in the darkness, and enlightens everyone.

We are called to point to this light, wherever we are.

A Prayer:

Holy God,

You are with us at all times and in all places,

And even when we cry with Jesus and the Psalmist, and others,

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.

To you are known all our hurts and all our hopes.

To you our hearts are open, and all our desires are known.

Uphold us in our brokenness by your grace and love.

Illuminate us, our place and our pathway, in the light and in the dark.

Strengthen us that we may reflect your light,

And reveal your presence and love.

Amen

Inderjit Bhogal

Christmas 2020

UK Government Cuts Overseas Aid

Statement from the Fellowship of Reconciliation regarding the cut in Overseas Development Aid and Reiteration of Increased Military Spending from Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Richard Bickle, Chair of Trustees, said:

“Today the Chancellor showed where the true priorities of this Government lie. Having removed at least £4billion a year from the poorest communities through cuts in aid he reminded everyone of the increased military spending of £6 billion a year to £24 billion over 4 years.  This decision won’t lay the foundations for peace and tackling poverty. Stopping conflict and building peace is enabled by tackling global poverty, not investing in even more weapons of war. We hope the diverse array of voices speaking against this cut will be heard”

REMEMBRANCE DAY 2020

A Meditation and Prayer for Wincobank Chapel members, Sheffield, from Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal, Honorary President of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and President of the Methodist Peace Fellowship

Remembrance Day is an annual reminder of the horrors of war, the loss of millions of lives and homes through war.

There are stories of the “fallen heroes”, and we remember that in modern warfare, one in ten of those killed are members of the armed forces, the rest are civilians whose stories cannot be forgotten.

Remembrance Day is on 11 November because it is the day on which World War One ended. A two minutes silence is held to remember all those who have died in war.

11th November also marks St Martin of Tours Day. Martin was an officer in the Roman Army. He died on 8 November and was buried in Tours on 11th November in the year 397.

While stationed in Amiens, Gaul, Martin met a poor man, barely dressed, asking for alms. Martin tore his military cloak in half with his sword, and gave half of it to the man, and draped half of it over his shoulder.

For Martin, the poor man was a manifestation of Christ, he became a follower of Christ, and became a monk, then an abbot, and then in 371 he became Bishop of Tours.

He protected people from persecution and torture, and gave support to marginalised and excluded people of his day.

Martin’s cape became a relic which was kept in a tent. The tent came to be called capella. The priests who said prayers in the tent were called capellini.

The English words Chapel and Chaplain are said to derive from these terms. The words refer to compassion and protection from harm.

St Martin is central to the Christian commitment to compassion and non-violence.

Wincobank Chapel is draped with poppies, almost a cape made from poppies.

Poppies are an enduring symbol of remembrance. I have the traditional red poppies, white poppies, black poppies, and poppies remembering Sikhs.

In the world of 2020, we remember the huge number of people who have died and are dying from the menace of Covid-19.

We are called to remember and honour people who front the ministry of compassion and protection, NHS staff from cleaners to consultant surgeons, and all who offer care in so many ways.

Remember is an important word.

It appears almost 9,000 times in the Bible.

Frequently the one who is doing the remembering is God.

Human beings remember. Most importantly, God remembers. Everything and everyone, including you, is enfolded and held forever in the memory of God.

“Memory is a teacher. If we are wise, we learn from experience as we reflect on it, we grow in wisdom, and don’t repeat mistakes”.

Words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks to me on Remembrance Day 2000, as we waited to join the service at the Cenotaph in London.

Jonathan Sacks died on 7th November 2020. I remember him and his wisdom with thanks.

Memory itself has to be used with wisdom, because it can conceal as well as reveal.

Memory can build mythology which enlarges some bits and forgets other bits.

Memories of battle do this.

It elevates and build up glorious moments. It belittles and buries inglorious details.

Stories of victorious battles don’t always tell of the misery of the scene.

We need to pay attention to what and who is remembered and how. 

There are the fallen “heroes”, and there are those who are massacred.

There are also those who refused to pick up weapons and kill.

Ninety percent of all refugees in the world had to leave their homes to seek sanctuary elsewhere because of the destruction of war and violence.

I asked two teenage refugees from Syria what their future hope is. They said they hope to return to Syria. I asked what would make that possible. Without hesitation they said, “when the killing stops”.

When I was a teenager I recall helping to carry to the top of Ben Nevis, a granite stone with a message of peace and forgiveness from people in Hiroshima. It was a stone representing the prayers of people still living with the memory of the Atomic Bomb that obliterated their City killing 80,000 and injuring 35,000 people.

When I was a young Minister in Wolverhampton in the early 80s the mothers of British Soldiers away in the Falkland War used to come daily to have a few minutes of prayer in the Church, to pray for an end of the war, and for the safe return of their sons.

We remember them and all who are in our mind.

Every life is precious.

People throughout the world pray for peace.

This is the prayer today in the USA, with the announcement of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the new Presidential team announced yesterday.

I want to conclude with a prayer written by the Rev Dr Ray Davey, founder of Corrymeela Community.

I wrote this down on 11/11/2010, 11am in the presence of Ray and Alison (his daughter) from Ray’s war diary. Ray wrote this while he was a prisoner of war. He was not released till May 1945.

It is an appropriate prayer for today also.

RAY DAVEY PRAYER DATED 10 JUNE 1944

O God of all ages, we know that we live in momentous days, days of destiny and change.

Today we look to the world, we think of all that happens there.

Humbly and in faith we commit our cause to thee.

We confess our wrongs and evils, as a nation and as individuals.

We admit our part, and we accept our blame for this disordered and shattered world.

Be with all who take part in the struggle, endue them with patience, courage and crown their efforts with success.

May all the nations learn the folly, uselessness and senselessness of war.

And in thine own good time may a just and lasting peace be born from the ashes and destruction of so many lands and lives.

Give us the determination to live in patience and faith until the day of our freedom.

Breathe in us anew the burning resolve to fashion a society that shall think more of the things that bind men together than those that keep them apart.

Give us the will to raise a new community, God centred and God controlled.

Give us the practical willingness to plan the remaking of our own homes and the rededication of our lives, so that our land may be built on the solid basis of love and trust.

O God of our captivity, whose hand has held and sustained us through this weary journey,

Be with us now in these days of suspense and waiting.

As thou hast been our guide and strength in the past strengthen us now.

Give us the quiet mind of patience and confidence.

We remember thou hast said, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth thee”.

Father who hast created the nations as all members of the great human family, cause the terrible strife to cease.

And when it comes to an end may reason. Justice and foresight prevail.

Cleanse our hearts from the spirit of revenge and hatred and reprisal.

Give us the spirit of charity and forgiveness.

We would reaffirm our belief in love as the centre of life.

Give us the determination and faith so to live as individuals and nations that wars may be outlawed forever.

Amen.

Inderjit Bhogal

8 November 2020

FoR welcomes Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

The Fellowship of Reconciliation, which has been inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus to work and witness for peace for more than a century, is delighted that the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has passed the final hurdle towards becoming international law. 

Director of the Fellowship, John Cooper, said: 

The 50th signature to the Nuclear Ban Treaty is a positive moment for the world. It is testament to the global network of campaigners, faith groups and organisations that worked hard to make a nuclear free dream a reality. 

The treaty will set the future direction of the world away from the sin of nuclear weapons and closer towards a world of peace.  Our celebrations, in this country, must be muted by recognition that we need to face our own nuclear history – including testing weapons in the pacific region –  as well as calling for a nuclear weapon free future. 

Dunbar holds Vigil for Peace to mark 75 years since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The coastal town of Dunbar was the setting for a special service of remembrance to mark 75 years since the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Covid19 restrictions meant attendance was limited for outdoor gatherings and worship.

Many different church traditions were reflected throughout the service. It was lead by Rev David Mumford, an FoR Trustee, retired Priest and member of St Anne’s Scottish Episcopal and Methodist Church in Dunbar. The first Bible lesson was read by the Rev. Fred Harrison from Dunbar Parish Church and the words of Pope Francis were read, calling on humanity to reject war forever and to ban nuclear weapons.

This year reflections were shaped by a special reading. The granddaughter of Rev John Dorward, a Church of Scotland missionary in Nagasaki at the time of the bombing, worships at nearby Belhaven Parish Church. She had permitted his eyewitness account of the devastation at Nagasaki to be read.

Prayers offered included thanksgiving for the recent United Nations Treaty countries outlawing nuclear weapons and that all nations would sign up to the Treaty.

Finally, the vigil ended with prayers for peace between countries.

Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal Appointed Honorary President of FOR

Inderjit Bhogal Methodist Conference 2018
Photo copyright Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes

The Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal OBE has been appointed Honorary President of the Fellowship of Reconciliation England and Scotland. The appointment was agreed by members of the Fellowship who attended the recent Annual Council, held on 20th June 2020.  Inderjit is already active as President of the Methodist Peace Fellowship, a network of Methodists within the FOR. 

His appointment to the newly-created role will last for three years from the Annual Council of 2020 to the Annual Council of 2023.  It is a voluntary role that will provide opportunities for the Fellowship and Inderjit to spread wider a message of peace, reconciliation, and justice to churches of all denominations.

Inderjit responded to the appointment saying:

“I am deeply honoured and humbled by this appointment, and hope to fulfil my responsibilities well. I value the work of FOR, especially the insistence on the centrality of reconciliation. All of us are called to share in God’s continuing ministry of reconciliation.

In this ministry of reconciliation we dare to hope for and dream of a different society. A decent society where “widest extremes” can be joined, all people can be safe and have equal opportunity. They can flourish and enjoy the fullness of life. It will be a society where different parties agree to be in an open and honest relationship in which they share openly and honestly in difficult conversations.

A reconciled society, congregation or church will not be one without differences and disagreements. It will be one where division is not destructive. Instead, there is a shared commitment to listening to each other and the enhancement of life for all.

I am committed to working with all FOR members and partners and others in this ministry”.

FoR Statement on Merging of Foreign Office and Department for International Development

Richard Bickle, Chair of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, released the following statement, following the announcement from the UK Government that they will be merging the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with the Department for International Development:

“Today’s announcement by the UK Government should be a matter of concern for all peacemakers.  A strength of the Department for International Development, and its funding decisions, was its independence from the foreign policy objectives of any one government. Instead, it linked its focus to the globally recognised Sustainable Development Goals, including a need to build peace in fragile states.

The Prime Minister, in his statement to the house, made clear that the launch of the department was months away. We will be paying close attention to see how the DFID strategic aim of promoting peace by working in insecure nations to tackle the root causes of conflict will translate to the new department”

Hymns for Peace? #MPNN

How often has a hymn taken your breath away as you have sung it? Today’s call to ‘Make Peace the New Normal’ is a chance for us to turn into song our shared commitment to Peace.

Earlier this year, Peacelinks, our newsletter, carried a fascinating analysis of the work of Shirley Murray and Graham Maule, both of whom had died. Hymnwriter Andrew Pratt explained the power of their work:

Their significance cannot be underestimated. How far
hymns will be useful in the future we cannot tell,
but corporate song binds people together, enables
us to express thoughts, emotions and convictions
that are more difficult to communicate in prose.
We remember songs and they can motivate and
reinforce communal action. Murray and Maule
have both written in a way that underlines peace
and justice.

As our day of ‘Making Peace the New Normal’ draws to a close why not draw your thoughts together by writing a hymn? Our current situation, locally and globally has much to say about what it means to be a disciple today.

Gary Hopkins, a Midlands Hymnwriter, offered the following yesterday as his reaction to the world today:

(Note: It can be sung to the tune(s) Abbotts Leigh or Scarlett Ribbons )

  1. God, our anger at injustice
    swells from deep within our core:
    anger at decision makers
    for oppression we deplore;
    anger at the ones who lead us
    for indifference to the poor;
    anger at the lies, deception,
    selfishness that we abhor.

2. Systems made to serve the privileged,
tightly gripped by those with power –
stripping others of life chances –
edicts from an ivory tower.
God our anger fires within us:
bring your justice, liberate;
come and shatter worldly systems;
take the least and make them great!

3. Channel grief and anger in us;
let us be your voice and hands.
Spirit, guide our justice-seeking,
take us where your love demands.
Christ destroys the powers and forces,
chains of bondage, unjust strife,
not by might and raging violence
but a sacrificial life.

4. How long, Maker, Word and Spirit,
till such evils are reversed?
How long till your reign is finished
and the last become the first?
Hear us God, we pray for justice,
hear our cries for those oppressed,
hear our voices, never silenced,
till the least are truly blessed.

© Gary Hopkins 2020
Suggested Tunes: Abbot’s Leigh or Scarlet Ribbons

Statement on #VEDAY75

Today the nation marks the end of the fighting in Europe. As a Fellowship we know it will remind us all of many different memories, stories and thoughts.

Our Chair, Richard Bickle, released the following statement:

“We will join people throughout the UK and around the world as they reflect on the end of fighting in Europe during the Second World War.

As we do so, we remember that there are no real winners in war, casualties occur on all sides and conscript armies are forced to fight one another. Many of those who returned as heroes brought with them deep wounds from all they had seen and done.

There are few people still alive who remember the relief felt at the end of the war in Europe, however the need to build lasting peace is as needed today as it has ever been.”