Rector's Monthly Letter July / August 2017

Dear Friends

We are living in troubled times. As yet another act of hatred was carried out in London when a van was driven into a group of Muslim worshipers outside their mosque, the words of ‘make me a channel of your peace’ came into my head.

The hymn, also known as the Prayer of St Francis or Peace Prayer is partly taken from words which have been attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, but scholars now believe it more likely to have come from St Giles of Assisi, a close companion of Francis. He wrote 

“Blessed is he who loves and does not therefore desire to be loved;
Blessed is he who fears and does not therefore desire to be feared;
Blessed is he who serves and does not therefore desire to be served;
Blessed is he who behaves well toward others and does not desire that others behave well toward him;
And because these are great things, the foolish do not rise to them”.

The words which keep coming back to me are

“Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred let me bring your love
Where there is injury, your pardon Lord” and “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned” 

Our Queen has spoken out about the terrible events of the past three months. She said “I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need”.

Love always triumphs over hatred. There are many instances in the Gospels where Jesus exhorts us not only to love one another, but to love our enemies too. In Matthew 5: 42 - 48 Jesus says:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.

This is difficult teaching, especially in this day and age, when faced with such hatred and indiscriminate violence that traps even children in its wake. But it is unequivocal. As Christians, we are called to love and pray for our enemies, whoever they may be. This latest terrorist incident was born out of misguided hatred for all of God’s people who are Muslim. Retaliation born of the belief that if you are a Muslim you must be a supporter of terrorism. Love will overcome this misguided thinking, but only if we answer God’s call to love our enemies and as well as our neighbours as ourselves.

With love in Christ