Monday, August 21, 2006

The Archbishop of York at the end of his fast The Anglican Archbishop of York, John Sentamu has ended his seven-day vigil for peace. He said the following at a Eucharistic service this morning (hat tip: Titus-One-Nine):

The challenge for the international community is to make peace in the Middle East a priority for the sake of us all and to sacrifice their own self-interest in the short term for the prize of sustainable peace.

As in all conflicts great and small, both sides have acquired supporters and protagonists. We as humans are prone to divide into camps named For and Against. Christians must continue to struggle to find ways to create communities which transcend tribalism, where we strive to love one another as God loves us. We must not give in to the fear which is in all of us but must seek to fan the spark of divine humanity which we all possess.

Today marks not an end but rather a spur to continuing prayer that God’s peace will come. We must not, however, just look across the water and pray for peace in the Middle East, and peace in the world. We must look at our own nation, our own children growing in a society which does not always foster inclusion and generosity as our priority. It is surely fear and anxiety which leads to aggression. We must build a sense of safety. Our Christian calling is to cry out for those who feel outside and to nurture love within. If we seek for others an integrity and legitimacy of civil society, we ourselves must strive to think about our own.

We must each and every one of us hold responsibility for seeking peace in our own time, in our own streets and in our own homes as well as continuing to pray for the world.

I believe that this is why I have been here in the Minster this week. We must look into our own hearts and at our own demons as well as seek to help others with theirs. We have in our world the ravenous demons of idolatry; materialism, militarism and racism whose food is money status and power. These demons are like the demons in the boy whose story is told in the Gospel of Mark chapter 9. Jesus tells his disciples that these demons cannot be cast out except by prayer and fasting. Some demons have settled deep within us.

We can nurture love, foster courage and seek wisdom, we can choose not to accept sentimentality, leave foolhardiness unchallenged or lapse into cowardice.

My hope and message to all of us is that in a world of short cuts, deception and death may we seek and find the Way which is of Truth and brings Life.

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