Wednesday, April 24, 2013


“Loving God, compassionate and merciful,
We pray for every land, and for every daughter
And son of humankind, the right to life, liberty, and security of person;
Freedom from slavery and servitude;
Freedom from torture; freedom from cruel, inhuman,
Or degrading treatment or punishment.”

As we reflect back on the horrors of war, one can almost hear the echo of this prayer in the hearts of men and women, as they themselves went, and watched those whom they loved, march off to fight for such a dream.  It is ironic and tragic that so many had to die to achieve life, liberty and security of person.  Yet as we gather as a nation on ANZAC Day in remembrance and respect for those who fought and fell, there is a sense of pride for the courage and self-sacrifice of our countrymen and women who went to war.

The Salvation Army, like many other organisations, have long had an association with the military in their efforts for peace.  While reading a book published in 1919 called, “The Army that went with the Boys”, I found an article that was published in the Australian War Cry on the occasion of the signing of the Armistice, on November 11, 1918 written by General Bramwell Booth regarding ‘Peace’:

“The news of an Armistice - which, all can see, will lead to Peace - must fill with gratitude every lover of mankind.  No words of mine can adequately express the joy and praise which we The Salvation Army in every corner of the earth feel in the conclusion of the awful conflict of the last four years.  Dark clouds may still hang over the future, but today we can do nothing but thank God for peace.

The war is ending amid a general downfall of those who hoped to profit by it, and in a universal hatred, not of this country or that, not of this man or the other, but of war itself.  This is the hatred which is akin to righteousness.  It is a half-sister of love, and is manifestation of the spirit of Holiness.

It is not given to us to see into the future.  We know not whether the long hoped for day has dawned when wars shall be no more.  We cannot tell how far the reign of universal peace has really begun.  But we can see that a new and powerful spirit of aversion to the killing methods of settling disputes between peoples has taken possession of a large part of mankind.  Let us praise God for that!  Let us do what we can to instruct and deepen it.  Let us also value the glorious prospect of a new good-will among men, purchased for us at the cost of so much precious blood, and so infinite a sum of agony.

Let us remember, amid our rejoicings of today, the mourners.  The bells and music will be mingled in many hearts with the memory of dear voices now silent for ever.  They have lost that the world might gain - they have given freely that we might be spared.  May God comfort them - and let all who love Him share in the blessed work.

And now, my dear comrades..., need I remind you that in our war there is no Armistice - no cessation of hostilities?  The days of Peace will bring to us needs as great as the days of war.  Let us all in fuller measure give ourselves to God for bringing about a true reign of Righteousness in all lands, and amongst all peoples.  Forward with the Cross of Jesus!”

Well, many wars have passed since that celebration of peace, and many more men and women have died for the same cause.  But let us not forget the ultimate sacrifice of one man who died for the eternal peace of all humankind, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Himself says:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

As we look around us today we see a world of social, political and moral turmoil; a world without the peace that so many have died for.  Although we deeply respect the sacrifice of many, let us acknowledge the sacrifice of one - who alone can bring peace to this world.  Jesus came so that we may experience a life of fullness, hope and peace - He provided the way through His death on the cross, which we celebrated only a few weeks ago at Easter.  And by His resurrection we can experience victory over all that which is evil in this world.

One would hope that as a society who has experienced the atrocities of war, we would learn from the pain of the past and take hold of the hope of the future which is found in Christ.  In our pursuit of peace, may we embrace the words of the hymn, Peace, Perfect Peace:

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and he is on the throne.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to heaven’s perfect peace.

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