I wonder if we realise how truly blessed we are?
We live in
, not just one of the best countries in the world but also one of the safest. Australia
We enjoy a lifestyle virtually unmatched by any other nation on earth.
At least in part because we have a continent all to ourselves and don’t share a border with any other country we enjoy great security and safety.
We may be guilty of taking these things for granted, of not truly appreciating just how well off we are.
Further to that, we live in Busselton, a quiet little seaside town, a jewel on the beautiful coastline of the near perfect south west of
. Western Australia
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say there are few better places to live anywhere on the planet.
But twice in the last few years, Busselton’s heart has been broken by events in other parts of the world.
There is a huge gap between the world’s rich and poor, the haves and have-nots, and this has served to reinforce the differences and inequalities between peoples and nations.
The world is greatly troubled, conflict is widespread and many resort to acts of violence, destruction and murder as weapons of terror.
While we live in peace, many other countries suffer at the hands of terrorism, war and violence on a daily basis.
In desperate circumstances, corrupt and evil forces can and do seduce the weak, the unwary and the gullible.
Some have come to believe the lies; that murder and terrorism can enable them to achieve their aims.
Fuelled by ignorance mistrust and hatred, religious fanaticism has manipulated desperate people into committing heinous acts of evil and terror.
Carol and Brendan are just two of hundreds who were killed maimed or injured in
Bali and countless other places.
Beautiful Busselton suffered doubly and many of you here experienced a pain too unimaginable to contemplate or describe.
How do we respond to these awful events?
What can we do?
We have cried many tears and mourned our dead. The pain has diminished but slightly.
We have only our memories to hold on to, to enjoy, to draw comfort from.
Now we have a place. A special place. A place dedicated to the memory of Carol and Brendan. A place conceived, designed and constructed by their family and friends as a tribute to their lives and their memory.
Here on our beautiful coast we have a place we can come, to remember, to contemplate, to pray. I hope that this will be a place of peace and friendship and honour and even celebration.
But, I believe we have to do more.
I don’t believe we can just hunker down in our safe refuge and ignore the problems of the world.
In possibly the greatest message ever preached, the sermon on the mount, Jesus said something I believe to be completely applicable to us today.
“Blessed are the peacemakers”.
Let me elaborate on that simple statement.
Jesus didn’t say “blessed are the peacekeepers” but rather the peacemakers.
We are familiar with peacekeepers in the modern world, armed soldiers sent to places of conflict to keep warring parties at bay. Their role, though vital to safety and security, is only to impose peace through superior force. It does not produce lasting peace because it does not resolve the root causes of the problems that lead to conflict in the first place.
I believe we need peacemakers.
In fact I believe we need to be peacemakers ourselves.
That means we need to actively, consistently and persistently work towards making peace.
Where there is conflict we need to work for peace, whether that be in places of war or in our school or workplace or in our own homes. To make peace requires hard work. To make peace requires us to listen, and understand and empathise with both sides and to promote reconciliation, restitution and forgiveness.
It’s not easy to make peace but ultimately when we do the impact is greater and longer lasting. We personally can’t resolve the conflict that leads to terrorism but we can work to learn about other people, to see inside their worlds and to look for ways to cooperate, co-exist and work together. We can choose a path dedicated to living at peace with others.
I’d like to think that Carol and Brendan’s memories would be honoured by such actions of peace making on our part.