Once again we have heard of violence against innocent men, women and children, this time in Christchurch, New Zealand. Again, we come to the Lord of the cross and cry out:
“Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the word, grant us your peace.”
As I am writing these words, the media everywhere is continuing to work through the horrific gun murders in the Christchurch mosques on Friday 15 March.
We have heard the shooter was an Australian from just across the Queensland border, in the northern rivers region of Grafton. We have also seen strong reaction to a written piece from Queensland Senator Fraser Anning, in which he connected the murders in New Zealand with immigration policies in that country.
But there is a connection between what gunman Brenton Tarrant wrote and what Senator Anning wrote that calls for reflection by people of the Christian faith. Both men make reference to Christianity as they express their opinions about people of the Islamic faith.
In his ‘manifesto’ published on the day of the murders, Brenton Tarrant calls for Christians to take up a crusade against Islam, like the one that went to the Holy Lands in the year 1095, called by the Roman Catholic Pope Urban II.
Senator Anning quotes Matthew’s Gospel chapter 26, to highlight his point that those who “take the sword, shall perish by the sword.”
This terrible attack in Christchurch is a moment for Christians to consider what is at the very heart and centre of all that we believe, we teach and we confess about God. We proclaim Christ crucified. He is the Prince of Peace-making who hung on a cross in Calvary and prayed “Father forgive them, they know not what they are doing.”
It is true that in past times, Christians have perpetrated and condoned violence against others in the name of Jesus Christ. For that we cry, “Lord have mercy on us and forgive us.”
St Peter tells us how to give witness to faith in Jesus Christ, writing in the third chapter of his first letter, “In your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
On Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand we saw neither gentleness nor reverence.
So, with gentleness and reverence we pray for the people of the mosques, for those who have suffered loss and are still suffering, for the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, and for people throughout the world, saying, “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, grant us his peace. Amen.”
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