Thursday, 17 November 2016

Let’s start with a dictionary definition:
‘Peace’ is a period of harmony between different social groups. It is characterised by a lack of violence or conflict behaviours, and the freedom from fear of violence. Commonly understood, peace is the absence of hostility and retribution; but peace also suggests sincere attempts at recon­ciliation; the existence of healthy or newly-healed interpersonal or international relation­ships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the establishment of equality, and a working political order that serves the true interests of all.

     Peace. We all want peace. Recently, a world-renowned historian looked at the history of the world. And he asked a simple question, ‘How much of human history has been overwritten by war and therefore a lack of peace?’ It’s a difficult calculation, because we don’t actually know the history of most of the world before, say, the fifteenth century – though records do exist, such as the Bible and the so on. In other words, the record is incomplete.
     Nevertheless, our historian studied the history of the world and crossed out those dates during which the world knew war. So he crossed out four whole years from September 1914 to the 11th of November 1918. He crossed out nearly six years from 1939 to 1945. To crossed out nearly a hundred years of war between Britain and France, covering the whole reign of Napoleon; more than a hundred more years of war between Britain and France that started during the reign of Edward III in the 1300s. He crossed out the many Boer Wars; the Two Opium Wars; the wars of Genghis Khan in what is today’s China; the American Civil War; the English Civil War; the Wars of the Roses; the wars of independence in America, Africa, and the Middle East, and the Pacific Rim. He crossed out the war in Afghanistan which is now longer than both the First World War and the Second World War combined. He will have crossed out the civil war in Sudan, which is officially the longest-lasting war in the world today, and which started before I was born in the early 1960s.
     The result? Our historian found there have been only 26 days of world-wide peace since the end of World War II in 1945. That’s less than a month.
And he found that the longest unbroken length of peace ever—as far as recorded history is concerned—the longest period is SIX days in length. And it was many centuries ago.
     Six days. That’s the length of time in the Bible between God starting creation and the first day of rest. It’s the length of time a man can go without any food before his system is damaged beyond repair. It’s the longest ever period recorded of a person going without sleep. Six days.
     Six days is also the length of time between the end of today’s service and the next day on which we have a full sung service of worship in this Church. So as we long for peace and think of peace, pray for peace and yearn for peace, perhaps the first thing we can do is work for peace during this coming week. Your week will differ from my week in terms of its content, and insofar as you’ll meet different people from the people I meet.
     We have six days in which to avoid warfare in our own hearts.
     Today is Remembrance Sunday, when we remember the ravages of war and the terrors and effects of War. We think of those who died and those who survived but were never the same again. We pledge ourselves to work against the effects of war. 
     And as a first step, we pledge ourselves to last just seven days without war in our own hearts.

No comments:

Post a comment