Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Years

So, one year ended and another began. It is all very arbitrary but it marks the times of our lives.

Today is the Feast of the Mother of God. It is also a Day of Prayer for World Peace. There are plenty of things to pray for.

The election has gone very badly in Kenya and has dissolved into tribal violence. The President suddenly “found” enough to votes to win an election. The opposition is responding with protests and the two sides are now attacking one another. Last night folks took refuge inside a church and then the other side set the church on fire. The situation is very bad and neither the European Union nor the U.S. has congratulated the President on his “election”. At this time over 350 people have been killed and 75,000 have been driven from their homes. The nation is on the verge of civil war.

Yesterday in Sudan shooters opened up on a car clearly marked with U.S. Embassy emblems killing the Sudanese driver and the American ambassador. It is not clear if this was a random act of violence or anger over the U.N. taking control of Darfur.

Christians have been killed in Turkey, Iraq, and India. Christian communities are being harassed and dwindling in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt.

Somalia continues to suffer from civil war, warlordism and an ineffective Ethiopian occupation.

Pakistan is in chaos, Iraq continues to suffer on a daily basis, Afghani violence is increasing and the possibility of reverting, at least in some provinces, to rule by the Taliban is a real possibility.

New Orleans is ready to claim the title of the deadliest city in America.

So, Let us Pray.

So why be happy about a New Year? Because that is not the entire picture.

Within a year we will have a new president. No matter who is elected it looks like he or she will take global warming seriously.

Moslems and Christians have begun a serious dialogue.

Mennonites continue to serve in the Middle East, supporting the Christian churches that already exist and have existed for 2000 years instead of trying to make them into American style Christians.

Humanitarian organizations continue to serve those in need, around the world despite increased and deadly attacks on the volunteers.

Individuals, as they always have, are making a difference.

Jim and Judy Larson continue the labor and love intensive work in Thailand of serving young women who were prostitutes.

Emmaus Ministry in Chicago continues the labor and love intensive work of caring for young male prostitutes. This is an organization that sees itself doing the work Christians were called to do, to care for the outcasts. This is an organization that includes Baptists, Catholics, lay people, clergy and students.

Barb O’Conner and JustPeace are working, well, for peace in an ever more violent world.

The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Mennonite Service Committee, the Civil Air Patrol and a host of other professional-volunteer organizations created to help those most in need respond quickly whenever the call for help is made.

We all know the people and ministries that are making a difference. This list could go on and on. What is important is that we remember our own sources of inspiration so when we read the national and international news we experience anger at injustice, anger that makes us want to do something. The alternative is to feel anger and want to strike out or worse, feel overwhelmed and simply give in.

So yes, we must pray for peace but this is also an appropriate time to pray in thanksgiving for so many people doing so much good.


No comments: