Welcome to Life in 361˚. This blog is an 'open journal' - a space where I keep notes on bits & pieces I come across day-to-day - including books and articles I've read that I feel are worth sharing, interesting pictures and photos (I'm a visual learner, you see), random musings - and anything else that happens to catch my eye or ear. It also acts as a kind of 'open experiment' in terms of developing my views and writing skills - and networking with other people of a like-mind.

If you've stumbled upon here randomly, then I suggest you check out my biography and other pages.

Please Note: This site, and the social networking profile pages connected with it, reflect my personal interests & views which do not necessarily represent those of organisations I am affiliated / associated with.

22/05/2013

Call to Peace, Call to Justice

After a short period of silence to allow the meeting to become gathered, Sunday's ministry began with a Friend reading from Advices and Queries, with the spiraling cycles of violence in Syria and Nigeria raised as a concern:

"We are called to live ‘in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars’. Do you faithfully maintain our testimony that war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ? Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm in our testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are children of God."

From there a number of further ministries were given, asking us to consider Jesus Christ and the spirit in which he lived. It was one defined by a passionate concern for others, a desire to do 'something' about injustice but a seemingly equally strong desire to avoid attempting to right a wrong with another wrong. 

A Friend noted that in the stories of Jesus we see a radical rabbi, a teacher steeped firmly in Jewish traditions and identity, reaching out to the bitter enemies of the Jewish people - namely a Roman soldier and the Samaritans.

On reflection, it occurred to me Jesus's views - as represented in the New Testament stories - are not consistently universalist but rather, that they were complex, contradictory and changing over time. The most striking examples can be found in Matthew 10:5 - 6 and Mark 7:24 - 30. For me this makes his ministry more human, more worthwhile reflecting upon, ultimately more compelling.

I also found myself reflecting on Psalm 37, to the point I nearly gave it up as ministry. I encountered the first part of the psalm recently, in Jonathan Aitken's 'Psalms for People Under Pressure' which draws upon his prison experiences following his conviction for perjury and subsequent disgrace as a politician. 

Psalm 37, although written from someone in a different land thousands of years ago, strikes me as carrying a similar spirit to that we see in Jesus - and that we see in other figures, particularly Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, who rejected violent means of struggle yet brought us a few steps further towards justice.

On reading it again during the silence, I felt reassured and deeply moved - the unjust, whether we believe in an actively judging God or not - may gain in the short term but will not succeed in the longer term; therefore we must remain steadfast, we must not repay wrong with wrong, we must trust in living according to The Way - a way we can find by looking at our culture's wisdom traditions, across the ages, and to those rooted in other civilizations.

Although I had intended to write up my experience of last Sunday's meeting for worship sooner, in light of today's news of the horrific attack on a British soldier in London apparently by a Muslim opposed to Western military intervention in so-called Islamic lands, it feels all the more relevant.

Be it in politics or our personal lives, the call to peace is as strong as the call to justice.

No comments: