We are again at the time of year when for many of us there will be the opportunity of holidays, because the children are off school. For others there will be the annual visit to Aberystwyth. Thinking of Aber I am reminded of Psalm 122 which begins,
I was glad when they said to me, Let us go up to the house of the LORD!
In a later verse it talks of the tribes going up, and there is that sense of great excitement as people meet others they haven’t seen for a year or more. They are encouraged to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and I felt that that was a timely encouragement. We know that three horrible acts of terrorism have been committed in as many months, Parliament, Manchester and London Bridge. My writing was interrupted at that point and as I write we are reeling from that devastating fire in Grenfell Tower. It would seem that this is not connected to terrorism, but there are countless people in Kensington totally devastated. Some are bereaved, many homeless, others desperate to hear news of missing loved ones. The emergency services and hospital staff are again pushed to the limits as they face tragic circumstances.
The annual eisteddfod has a ritual which on three occasions asks the question, ‘Is there peace?’ The answer comes back, ‘There is peace!’ Today however there are many who know nothing of peace and are afraid to leave their homes. Possibly there are others who are regretting the professional advice “In case of fire – Stay Put.”
What tragic situations, but in many ways it has been the repeated experience of humanity. How then can we help people in these situations? We thank God for the fact that we are all made in the image of God, so we have seen outpoured expressions of love and care with mountains of flowers and Disaster Funds raising thousands of pounds. The response to the Grenfell Tower has shown other responses as people have plundered wardrobes, fridges, cupboards and homes to provide food, clothing and furniture. These responses are wonderful and commendable, but sadly are still limited. There is no real lasting peace without a genuine relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Many prophets in the Old Testament period tried to preach peace, when in fact there was no peace.
We are not to simply pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but in 1 Timothy 2 we are told to pray for those in authority, so that we might live a peaceful and quiet life. Over this summer period as we try to find peace on holidays let us make time to pray for our leaders at all levels, Westminster, Cardiff, and locally. I would also covet your prayers for myself and all the church officers, so that we might make good and right decisions as we seek to lead the Church in a God-honouring way. Pray “that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honoured,” (2 Thess 3:1).
We live in desperate days, when the exhortation and instruction of Isaiah 55 verse 6 onwards has never been more appropriate and timely:
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
The Gospel, the Good News of God has not lost its ancient power, but there is only one means of access, the double sided call to faith and repentance. We can see the failures in the world and would call them to repentance, but what about us who claim to be Christians, are our lives marked by unrivalled love for God and our fellow human beings. Let us all make it a priority to seek God, so that He might pour out His grace and mercy upon us, so that many more might find that peace which passes all understanding.
In His Love,
Bernard Lewis July 2017