We are living in a time of war and the threat of war. The recent step change is characterised by Donald Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ threat and the apparent willingness to put this to the test by launching missiles at US targets. We are, and we feel, vulnerable and in Western Europe this level of unpredictability is new to most of us. Martin Luther King Jr wrote of the atomic age: “But our fanatical quest to maintain ‘a balance of terror’ only increases our fear and leaves nations on tiptoes least some diplomatic faux pas ignite a frightful holocaust.” This could have been written yesterday instead of 1967.

Where should we turn and what should we do? Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount called his followers to be makers of peace. This isn’t about finding our own tranquillity whilst the rest of the world struggles on, it’s about proactively playing our part in making peace. One way to do this is for the church to stand up and call on the leaders of the world to choose an alternative to conflict. Reading the headlines today suggests that as well as the focus being on Donald Trump and Kim Jong-um, Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China also have a vital role in defusing the escalating threats. Churches around the world are gathering together to pray for the leaders and for peace, including the church of South Korea holding vigils on its border with North Korea.

Peace starts with us and our own ability to make peace with those around us and above all with God. Jesus’s love for all of humanity means that as Christians we too are called to love, even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-45). Martin Luther King Jr continues in his book ‘A Gift of Love’: “It would be wonderful were I to look at the cross and sense only such a sublime reaction. But somehow I can never turn my eyes from that cross without also realizing that it symbolizes a strange mixture of greatness and smallness, of good and evil. As I behold the uplifted cross I am reminded not only of the unlimited power of God, but also the sordid weakness of man…We must see the cross as the magnificent symbol of love conquering hate and light overcoming darkness.” The cross calls us to partner with God in being peacemakers.

Thought for the Week contributed by Caroline Halmshaw, PCC Member at St Mary with St Alban