The church bombings on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka were reportedly in retaliation for the Mosque shooting in New Zealand last month.
Where does it end?
You disrespect me and I will disrespect you.
You beat up one of my tribe, I attack three of yours.
You kill one of mine, I kill five of yours.
You kill ten of mine, I kill twenty.
And so it escalates. But what if there was another path? What if we could stop this inevitable back-and-forth retaliation process? What if someone at some point in that chain of misery responded with kindness, forgiveness and mercy.
Jesus called on his followers to follow the path of peace. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Matt: 5:30-39)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. “
That is how we break the pattern. This is how we stop the bloodshed.
Anzac day has fallen in the same week as Easter. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it throws us back to this issue. As we remember all the horrible (and all too often senseless) destruction and hatred of these increasing distant wars. We find ourselves saying “Never again”, but peace does not come from wishing anymore than it comes from the barrel of a gun. It comes because we commit ourselves to the path of peace. Eventually we need to find it in ourselves to forgive our enemies.
We have to walk the path of peace if we hope to arrive at the destination where war and weapons of war are obsolete. The Anzac Day dawn service at Gallipoli takes place in a garden where the battlefield used to be. If only we and our leaders could consistently embrace his message of loving our enemy – blessing those who curse us, doing good to those who hate us, overcoming evil with good, and casting out darkness with light.
The Easter story shows us how Jesus followed this path. He modelled enemy love for us. He taught us how to turn the other cheek, bless those who curse and overcome evil with good. We have seen his path. We truly honour our Anzac heroes when we choose to follow the path of Jesus. The story of Easter is that God chose to stop the retaliation game on the cross. You kill my son, I forgive you. You cry out with hatred, I respond with love.
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister