Faith in Taranaki: Let there be peace on earth
OPINION: Well, we have seen the back of 2016! I reckon that on New Year's Day most if not all of us are glad to see the end of the old year, and hope that the new one will be better.
And what happens is the new year is just as full of joy and delight, of angst and anguish as the last one.
We human beings will continue to struggle with the seemingly intractable problems and tragedies that the world faces, deal with our own dilemmas and hopefully have times with people who will enrich and encourage us.
I don't know about you, but my heart is full of tears when I see the images of the children of Aleppo on my TV screen every night.
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And I know that this is but an example of so many people oppressed and abused across our world. These are our brothers and sisters who are suffering; these little traumatised ones are part of our human family. And I feel so helpless.
So what can I do in the midst of all this tragedy? Of course I can support the various appeals which are providing humanitarian aid. I can write to world leaders and sign petitions on Facebook and the internet. And I can pray deeply and with all my heart for those caught up in these tragedies and for those brave souls who are peace-makers and people carers for us in these dangerous places.
Just a few days ago we Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus. Too often we have dressed up the Christmas drama in tinsel and cotton wool, making it safe and re-assuring.
In fact it is a story of profound trust in the goodness of God in the face of extreme anxiety and fear. Mary and Joseph were marginalised people in an occupied country with a truly difficult and uncertain future.
It was a truly scary situation and yet Mary 'glorifies the Lord'. What extraordinary faith!
And this little child grew up to challenge all the forces of unlove and hatred and greed, all the worst aspects of our human condition. He didn't just talk about love – he demonstrated what love looks like in actual practice.
Over the next few months we will follow the story of his ministry to the dramatic events of Holy Week, his crucifixion when it looks like the forces of death and destruction which seem to be swirling around our world today will have the last word, on to Easter Day, when Love triumphs over hate and Life triumphs over death for ever.
This is the spirit of life and love within us which will defy death and destruction. We are people of hope. We can and will believe that all that separates and injures and destroys is overcome by all that unites and heals and creates.
As we now stand at the beginning a new year, let us embrace all that can bring joy and peace into our lives, and be filled with hope and confidence and courage that against all the odds there is light in the darkness.
On Christmas day at the Cathedral we sang the song Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. I invite you to let this be your New Year resolution. Let peace begin with me! We are not helpless in the face of all the gone wrongness in our world!
And may the God of Peace bless each one of us and give us the inspiration and the courage to work for a world as God's love would have it be.
Happy New Year!
- Dean Peter Beck, Taranaki Cathedral