Swords into Ploughshares (Ros' Blog)
As I write, it looks as though the massacre in, and entire destruction of, Aleppo will eclipse even the genocide at Srebrenica in 1995. Hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria remain unaccounted for. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians in homes, hospitals and schools in Yemen are being slaughtered by government and Saudi forces, using weaponry supplied by our own country. Closer to home, while refugees languish in unregulated huddles along its northern coast, as well as in temporary detention centres around the country, the French Council of State has banned a film in which parents of Down’s Syndrome children explain the joy of having such a child in their family. The reason? The film might “disturb the conscience” of women who decide to abort Down’s Syndrome foetuses. Meantime 100% of Down’s Syndrome babies are aborted in Iceland, with Sweden not far behind. Here in the UK, reported hate crimes against disabled people have risen by 213% in the past five years, with the Crown Prosecution Service stating that it believes the unreported figure is far higher. On our streets, homelessness has also doubled during that period, with the majority of homeless people having either disabilities or mental health issues.
What price peace on earth and goodwill to all men? In the face of all that is going on, so much of which is completely outside our control, it seems natural, even reasonable, to despair. But as we celebrate the coming of a migrant who was told, “No room”, and who fled as a refugee to a foreign country, let us not forget that God has always been at work in the darkest places, making even the “wrath of man to praise Him” (Psalm 76.10). And though the scale of disasters caused by humans may have increased, and the reporting of them is now able to reach a worldwide audience, the spirit of enmity and hostility that fuels them is nothing new. As long ago as 1849 Edward Sears penned these words:
“Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush your noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.”
Despair becomes possible in the face of all this when we have a temporal perspective on the world. As people in Aleppo tweet their goodbyes, and we know that for many of them it really will be the last goodbye, we must remember that God’s perspective is eternal. As St Paul said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” But our hope goes beyond this life. God is still sovereign, still in control, still committed to uniting everything in peace and justice under the Lordship of Jesus. This is our ultimate hope: all wrongs really will be righted one day, and the reigning force in all of creation will be the love and grace of God our Creator, unopposed and victorious. That’s why Edward Sears could end his carol with lines reminding us of a time that is coming:
“When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.”
Some things are so important that God says them twice to make sure we get it. These words appear both in Isaiah 2.4 and Micah 4.3: “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.”
Here at Through the Roof We wish you a Christmas filled with the peace of God that passes understanding and a New Year of resting in the security of His love.
If you are Physiotherapist or an Occupational therapist, and would like to volunteer 10 days of your time, using your skills to provide life transforming opportunities to disabled people in developing countries, we would love to hear from you. We are a Christian charity that facilitates opportunities for disabled people in remote places to be fitted with refurbished wheelchairs.
Volunteer pastors/ministers/church leaders
We are looking for pastors, and people in Church leadership to take a week to ten days of their time to teach at Leader’s Events in developing countries. We encourage and equip local pastors in developing countries to include disabled people into the life of the Church. You could be a part of this developing mission.
Contact Shaun at Through the Roof to find out more