March Newsletter 2024

Religion is often used to justify war, as we see in Russia, Gaza, Israel and elsewhere today. ‘Dieu et mon droit’ (‘God and my Right’) has been the motto of British monarchs since Henry V, on coats of arms, military badges and flags. ‘Gott mit uns’ ('God is with us') appears on Prussian heraldry from 1701, adopted later by the German military. Many people ignore the truth St Peter reluctantly learns that ‘God shows no partiality’. God doesn’t take sides.

God is not a tribal God. Despite passages in the Old Testament which suggest the contrary, (like verses quoted by Netanyahu equating Gaza with the biblical Amalekites), Jesus makes it clear God has no favourites. God loves the people of Israel and her enemies unconditionally and equally. God makes no distinction between Jew, Arab or anyone else - ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ writes St Paul in his Letter to the Galatians (3:28).

Throughout the bible, God invites us to share in the flourishing of life, for all creation and all people. Jesus never told us life would be free of suffering and injustice. Bad stuff happens to everyone. The world is often very dark. But Jesus assures us God is with us in the darkness, calling us to meet every dispiriting situation head-on, with faith, hope and loving action.

Jesus’ agony on the cross on Good Friday shows there are no short cuts to a better world. But his resurrection on Easter Day tells us suffering, evil and death do not have the last word. Love wins through.

God calls us to be people who love, using each day to make a difference for good, building the world we want to see, becoming the people we want to be. Acts of generosity and kindness change the lives of those who receive and those who give.

‘There is no bad religion, there are only bad people,’ said Nelson Mandela.

‘If it is not good, it is not of God’(Anon).

Love Life, Live Lent 2024

Revd Jenny