What do we mean when we talk about peace?
An absence of war? Structures like the EU and NATO have helped to remove war between western countries. But have we had peace? The Falklands, Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland would all suggest otherwise.
Living in harmony with one another? We have anti-discrimination laws which should give guidance – anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-ageism. There are courts of human rights, there’s a charter of human rights. But recent events including Brexit, knife crimes, lone-wolf terror attacks show we have a long way to go.
What about personal peace, peace in our hearts? A legacy of the 1960’s is the search for personal peace. The Beatles
famously went out to India, Cat Stevens explored Islam, yoga classes sprang up across the country. In the high-speed,
constantly connected 21st Century more and more people are looking for this inner peace – through jogging, cycling, re-connecting with nature, following mindfulness courses.
For Christians peace starts with God.
Be still and know that I am God.
Being still, being silent scares many people. In all their lives they have never experienced real stillness, real silence. Each of us may have occasionally been somewhere with no noise and thought that that was silence; we may have been in a place where we haven’t moved but that’s not being still.
It is in the silence that we truly meet with God, when our hearts are still, calm, where we are one with our God and
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
A short while ago it was suggested that I might like to reminisce about Christmas in the Metropolitan police. What follows is the result of that suggestion!
As Christmas approaches I find myself looking back over the past fifty years and wonder where the time has gone? On 10th July 1961 I took the train from Hassocks in Sussex to Victoria Station in London to join the Metropolitan Police where I was to serve in a variety of roles for the next thirty years.
My first Christmas in London I was resident in a Police Section House with 105 other single men and it was the tradition for them to be on duty on Christmas Day allowing their married colleagues to spend the day with their children, and so it was for me on my first Christmas in the Metropolitan Police.
Most Christmas times passed without event but there were embarrassing moments. I was on night duty and checking shop doors in Marylebone High Street and on one occasion, not paying attention, I checked a door by pulling and pushing, as was the practice. The door gave way and I fell headlong into a very busy restaurant and my helmet rolled at great speed almost the length of the restaurant. As I pushed my self upright the manager said, trying to stop himself laughing, “Good Evening Officer have you booked” at which point the restaurant exploded with laughter. I grabbed my helmet and fled!
The winter of 1962/63 was challenging and very cold and towards the end of 1962 there was the last of the awful London smogs. We wore tie-on medical style masks with lint pads inside and by the end of an eight hour tour of duty they were black and fit only for the dustbin.
On one occasion during late 1962 I went to a Police Box (Tardis!) to make a scheduled call to the station (no radios in those days). As I opened the door there were loud shouts of “Shut the door” from the five officers already sheltering from the snow!
Along with the amusing incidents there were also many cries for help from the sad a lonely. I dealt with my first suicide at Christmas, and delivered a baby.
One Sunday evening the rain was very heavy and I was sheltering under the porch of All Souls Church opposite the BBC and I could hear the Rector the Revd, John Stott preaching about the Cross of Christ and his words went round in my mind for days after, beginning my journey of faith!
Wishing you all a joyous and peaceful Christmas and leave you with some words from the bidding prayer for Nine Lessons and Carols by Eric Milner-White:-
“Let us at this time remember in His name the poor and the helpless the cold , the hungry and the oppressed; the sick in body and in mind and them that mourn; the lonely and unloved; the aged and the little children.”
Revd Des Kelly