The question of ‘what really matters in life’ is something that can create different responses for different people. Each of us have different priorities and ideas that we place importance on. Yet there are some things that I think everyone would agree are truly important things in life. Concepts such as love, joy, hope and peace are ones that we all strive for or hope to be part of our lives. Yet they’re also concepts that in many ways can be intangible or difficult to articulate.
We’ve taken up the challenge to better understand these concepts in Chapel Services at the Senior School and over the last few weeks I’ve been reflecting on the idea of peace. All of us would want to strive for peace, be it in our own lives or when we look at the wider world. Yet it’s easy to become cynical or jaded towards the idea of peace, especially world peace, when we think of what it would take to achieve.
Over the last few months we’ve seen some of the worst acts of violence and for many that’s challenged the thought that peace could be possible. The attacks in Christchurch and the bombings in Sri Lanka have sent shockwaves throughout the world. For me personally, the Sri Lankan bombings hit home deeply. My family is originally from Sri Lanka and I have a deep personal connection to the country. Earlier this year I enjoyed a wonderful holiday there including celebrations with family. So, to see the peace of this nation challenged was very troubling.
But it’s in the face of these terrible attacks that I’ve been more emboldened to strive for peace. In the wake of the attacks in Sri Lanka I was reflecting on a passage in the Bible, Romans 12:9-21. In that passage the Apostle Paul uses phrases such as “love one another with mutual affection”, “live in harmony with one another” and “live peaceably with all”. For me, all of these phrases speak to striving for a commonality between all people. It can be so easy for mean spirited remarks about those who are different, the ‘other’, to slip into our community attitudes. This reading urges us to work for harmony with those, even if they’re different to us.
It can be difficult to explain these concepts with our Prep School boys. But I think a good way to start is by talking about diversity; by celebrating the joy that diversity is in our lives and how great it is that we can experience different cultures, different faiths and different experiences.
If we start by talking about diversity, by celebrating it and speaking about it, then we start to break down the nastiness that we sometimes see in our communities. If we do that then we start to achieve what Paul talks about in that passage from Romans and we start to make the concept of peace far more tangible and real.
Pastor Richard La’Brooy