Sharing Our Faith Together

Seeking Peace at a time of War

by Rev Jacky Quarmby 25 March 2022

Reading:  Psalm 46

Has there ever been a time in history, when people have not been at war?  In recent weeks, we have witnessed the horrifying impact of war in Europe, as the Russian army has invaded Ukraine, causing devastation to lives, homes and families.  Given the near saturation coverage of this war in the British media, we might be forgiven for thinking that the rest of the world is at peace – but this is far from being the case.  

An ongoing civil war in Yemen which began in September 2014 has resulted in more than 140,000 casualties.  A violent civil war in Ethiopia erupted in November 2020, which has drawn in fighters from neighbouring Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia.  There are at least 9000 recorded casualties, although other estimates suggest nearer 50,000.  Since February 2021, an armed revolution has taken place in Myanmar against the military government.  More than 4000 people have already died in this conflict in the first three months of this year.  Alongside these civil wars, incursions of violent terrorist groups occur regularly in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad, to name just a few of the countries plagued by terrorism. 

While human beings are capable of incredible courage, compassion and goodness, we are also capable of acts of unimaginable evil and cruelty.  We have seen that in the war in Ukraine with the bombing of a nursery and maternity hospital and in Nigeria with the kidnapping of more than 250 schoolgirls by Islamist extremists.  

It is hard to know how to respond to such atrocities, without losing hope or giving in to feelings of hatred and revenge.  But we have to try.  Brian Wren, the well-known hymn writer, wrote a hymn called “This we can do for justice and for peace”.  It seems to me that here in the first three verses, we can find a positive way to respond peacefully to the violence that we see around us. 

This we can do for justice and for peace
We can pray
And work to answer prayers that 
other people say.
This we can do in faith
And see it through – 
For Jesus is alive today.

This we can do for justice and for peace
We can give
Till everyone can take life in their
hands and live.
This we can do in love
And see it through – 
For Jesus is alive today.

This we can do for justice and for peace
We can see
And help our neighbours see – what is
and what could be.
This we can do with truth
And see it through – 
For Jesus is alive today.

Song:  O Lord the clouds are gathering

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Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!
Open our eyes and our hearts,
and give us the courage to say:
“Never again war!”;
“With war everything is lost.”

Instil in our hearts the courage
to take concrete steps to achieve peace.
Keep alive within us the flame of hope,
so that with patience and perseverance
we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation.
In this way may peace triumph at last.
(Pope Francis’ Prayer for Peace)