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Prince of Peace

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, The Prince of Peace, was given at The Salvation Army Devonport on Sunday 21 December, 2014, for our Christmas with the Salvos Carols service. The Reading was Isaiah 9:2-7

I chose the passage for today a few weeks ago. The theme for this Sunday was chosen a few weeks earlier than that. And as I sat down on Tuesday morning, in a coffee shop just down the road, only 24 hours after a siege in another coffee shop in Sydney had started, which ended up costing three people their lives, and changed the lives of countless more, I had to wonder how I could possibly preach on peace, when our peaceful existence has been so shockingly changed.

We live in a world characterised by it’s non-peacefulness

The unfortunate reality is that we live in a world that is characterised by it’s non-peacefulness. Wikipedia currently lists 13 Wars and conflicts currently happening around the world. So far, in 2014, that has resulted in at least 113,804 deaths. Over 100,000 deaths in this year alone. That is almost as many as the average number of deaths per year during the Vietnam War. If you add in those classed as minor skirmishes and conflicts, you have 44 Wars, Conflicts and skirmishes, with pushes it up over 118 thousand deaths in this year alone. Some of this conflicts have been going on since 1948 – the cumulative fatalities caused by these active skirmishes tops 6.5 million. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reported that in 2013, we had 51.2 million forcibly discplaced people. This is the highest on record. During 2013, conflict and persecution forced an average of 32,200 individuals per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere – up from 23,400 in 2012 and 14,200 in 2011.

But it’s not just armed conflicts that we have to worry about. Life seems to get busier and busier. That business leads to stress, which means that we can’t perform at our best, and can lead to mental and physical health problems. Elsewhere in our society, people are dealing with poverty, drugs, violence, domestic violence and more. All of these things chip away at that ideal, peacefilled existence. Continue reading Prince of Peace

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Is any life more important than another?

It’s tough to write on such a subject a as the Boston bombings so soon afterwards the event. I want to extend my sympathies to the victims and their families. However, I’ve seen a slightly worrying tend starting to appear on Facebook. Is the images contrasting the Boston bombings with a bombing somewhere in the Middle East, generally passing the question why the Boston bombings received blanket media coverage, while the bombings in the Middle East didn’t receive any.
Is this a legitimate question to ask? Yes. Is the right time to ask it on the very same day? I don’t think so.
By saying that one bombing should have received coverage over another is saying, in effect, that some peoples lives are more important than others. Whether that’s American lives over those of the Middle Eastern lives, or the other way around, either is not right. As a Christian, I believe that we are all made in God’s image, therefore we are all equally important to God.
So as Christians, how should we respond? Firstly, with prayer – for those affected by violence all over the world. Secondly, no matter who is responsible for these acts of terrorism, we need to remember that we cannot respond to violence with violence if we hope to achieve peace. You cannot achieve peace by fighting for it. As such, we need to be promoting a strong nonviolent response. How that will look like will depend on who is found to be responsible for the bombings. However, any response should be one that embraces nonviolent principles.

Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 34:14
At any time such as this, we need to strengthen our resolve to turn from evil and instead to do good. We need to seek peace and to pursue it in our world. We need to be the voice shouting in the wilderness of the new way, the way of peace, of nonviolence in ways that provide real solutions to the issues at hand.

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A Christian Gamer?

I’ll freely admit that I’m a bit of a nerd. Actually… a lot of a nerd. And what do nerds do to have fun with friends? Game. I’m what you would call a casual gamer – I don’t really play computer games all that often by myself, but will generally try to get to a LAN at least once a month with a few mates to have a gaming session. What we play at these nights are often an RTS – Real Time Simulator – such as Supreme Commander, Red Alert, or Warcraft 3 (if we’re feeling old school) and a FPS – first person shooter – such as Unreal Tournament 3, Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, etc. We’re all mature gamers – I’m the youngest at 23 – and I don’t think that any of us would be affected by the violence of such games.

However, I’ve been challenged in my thinking just recently. It was all sparked by the refusing of classification in Australia of Left 4 Dead 2. I was discussing this with my mum, arguing that I felt we needed an R18+ rating for games, especially considering that the average age of gamers in Australia is towards the mid-20’s and growing older all the time. I was saying that the people of are affected badly by violence in video games are in the minority, and generally have some underlying mental illness. My mum then used an argument on me that I had used to help me understand some new commitments in my faith. Continue reading A Christian Gamer?