Bishop’s Letter – 10th November 2017
Bishop Richard writes………
10th November 2017
The next few days will see Remembrance services held throughout the UK. This morning, I have been at Tata Steel in Llanwern at their memorial service and tonight, I will be in Ebbw Vale. As the years go by, the priority given to World War veterans is now being shared by remembrance of men and women who have lost their lives or who have been wounded in recent conflicts in the Middle East. The complex political landscape, where many have disagreed with government policies, has meant that Remembrance Sunday is not always supported in the same way as in previous generations. A recent media report tells us that at least a third of young people would feel uncomfortable in wearing a poppy. Our reaction might be negative to such views or perhaps you share their sentiments. What is clear is that this time of year helps us focus not only on the cost of war but on its moral ambiguity. Everyone will make their own mind up. One soldier, wounded by in a recent conflict, remarked that he does not look for sympathy for his plight, but for empathy with anyone who is disabled. It’s a fair point.
On Wednesday, I met two young Israelis who are visiting the UK as part of the Israeli Youth Delegation. They belong to a nation which is often viewed with suspicion or downright prejudice. Maayan said that she visited a Welsh school and was nervous about the response she might receive, particularly from the Muslim children. The atmosphere was cold to begin with, but gradually the human interaction brought a warmth and an openness to welcome different perspectives. What struck me was the way that these young people were able to embrace contrary views and move on. Their courage was a testimony to the human spirit to seek a greater good. If the cost of war can make any sense, it has to have outcomes that transform hostility into reconciliation.
The church follows a God who embraced the division of humanity on the cross. Young people’s suspicion can only be challenged by adults who see beyond the prejudice and look for peace and well-being. Clergy are privileged to lead communities as they remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. May our small contribution as a church set the tone of reconciliation and well-being for all.
For Our Prayers
We remember those who have died or been wounded through war and other conflicts. We give thanks for those working in support of veterans and pray for the implementation of the Armed Services Covenant.
Reflective Poem – There Will Be Peace by David Roberts, 1999
There will be peace:
when attitudes change;
when self-interest is seen as part of common interest;
when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes
are deleted from the account;
when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit
rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal or group gain;
when justice and equality before the law
become the basis of government;
when basic freedoms exist;
when leaders – political, religious, educational – and the police and media
wholeheartedly embrace the concepts of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and reconciliation as a basis for renewal;
when parents teach their children new ways to think about people.
There will be peace:
when enemies become fellow human beings.