02 Jun Don’t look back in anger…
Over the last few weeks violence has exploded in different parts of our beautiful, broken global village.
Around the world many of us are reeling from witnessing the cowardly targeting of people in Manchester going to a concert, the killing of Christians in Egypt travelling on a bus to a monastery and a brazen attack against people in the United States as they stood up for others on a train.
It is awful. It is all the more vile that religion is used as a justification for such violence.
In the face of this ugliness the temptation is to fall into the arms of despair or fear. Or perhaps worse, it is tempting to fall prey to this violence by replicating its destructiveness in our hate for the perpetrators. While tempting, this achieves nothing except the spread of their violence.
Amidst these tragedies there have also been astonishing moments of beauty. In Manchester at a public gathering to mourn those who had been killed, people spontaneously broke into the song by the 90’s band Oasis, singing together ‘Don’t look back in Anger’. In Egypt, Coptic Christians refused to renounce Christianity, even as they faced being shot, and instead they prayed and sang all the more of their faith in Jesus the Christ.
Despite all of the ways in which Christianity has been co-opted by the elite for power, for Empires and for colonising control, across the gospels Jesus’ focus is consistently on bringing peace, on serving, on forgiving, on choosing to actively resist violence and hate through non-violent compassion for all: neighbours and enemies.
In the spontaneous singing in both Manchester and on that bus in Egypt, and in the courage of strangers seeking to love and defend their neighbours I think we glimpse something of this radical non-violent resistance that Jesus proclaims.
Seeking to embody non-violence is not about being passive. Nor is seeking to be non-violent about denying the agony that violence begets. Instead, seeking to live in non-violence is about making the (moment by moment) choice not to be contaminated by the violence of others, or petrified by our own fear or anger on account of them.
According to the way of Jesus it is not about achieving this non-violent resistance in our own strength. It is about leaning into another source of power. The power of the kin(g)dom: the Divine’s non-violent compassion that is stronger than death, and all our death dealing, that is among us and that grows like wild flower weeds between the cracks in the concrete.
I pray that we may have the courage to seek the Divine’s scandalous kin(g)dom peace and to be that peace. I also pray that those who are grieving the loss of loved ones may know something of the Divine’s love deep down amidst the tears; the Divine who comes to us in Jesus, entering our pain, loving us to death and bringing risen life beyond our wildest expectations.
Rev Dr Sally Douglas
‘Don’t look back in Anger’ Manchester: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2017/may/25/manchester-crowd-sings-dont-look-back-in-anger-oasis-video