Church of England Diocese of Guildford Dunsfold


18 Aug 2021, 6 a.m.

The news this week has been grim. With little time to process Britain’s worst mass shooting in a decade last week,  reports of the Taliban declaring victory in Afghanistan were shocking. The scenes at Kabul airport have been desperate as people, gripped by intense fear, cling to aircrafts in a desperate bid to flee for their lives. This is not the time for a political post mortem. We must pray earnestly for our Government – and hold it to account – as it is recalled tomorrow to play its very best part, alongside all governments of a like mind, to collaborate in the face of this tragic humanitarian crisis which threatens so many and so much.

As we celebrated the feast of the Virgin Mary, I pondered what she might speak into this situation. I sense she suffers from much misconception – not helped by the immaculately washed and ironed ‘Mary blue’ that she always wears! The gospels tell us that she knew first-hand what it means to live under oppression, to flee for the lives of her family, for a sword to pierce her heart when she witnessed the crucifixion of her son. Yet she remained faithful throughout and beyond this – to His kingdom movement and the work of reconciliation that is so central in His mission. She may well be the ‘proto-disciple’.

Last week, I dipped into Archbishop Justin’s new course Difference [please hear me – I’m not pushing another course!]. It seeks to explore what faith means in a world of conflict. Rooted in the example of Jesus, Justin suggests three peace-making habits: be curious (seeking deeper understanding by listening to the story we don’t know); be present (engaging authentically in encounters – even when difficult); reimagine (finding hope in places where we long for change). It all seems a drop in the ocean in the context of the current climate – but it seeks to help us practically embrace Jesus’ teaching that ‘blessed are the peacemakers’.