Opinion Column

Kernels of Wisdom: Make me an instrument of Your peace

By Rev. Eric Strachan

Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia Network:
Lighting candles in at the memorial to the 10 victims of the fatal van attack, following the #TorontoStrong Vigil at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto, Ont. on Sunday, April 29. The event brought people together following the van attack that left 10 people dead.

Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia Network: Lighting candles in at the memorial to the 10 victims of the fatal van attack, following the #TorontoStrong Vigil at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto, Ont. on Sunday, April 29. The event brought people together following the van attack that left 10 people dead.

 

“Hatred can be overcome only by love”

MAHATMA GHANDI

The Willowdale Community Choir under the direction of Melissa Davis gave a powerful rendition of Instruments of Peace last Sunday night in Toronto as a crowd of close to 25,000 people gathered to mourn and remember the victims of the deadly Toronto van attack.

On Monday, April, 23, 25-year-old Alek Minassian had driven a white rented van along the sidewalk near Yonge and Finch mercilessly mowing down victim after victim. When the wilful slaughter had ended, eight women and two men were dead and 13 were seriously injured. The attack was the deadliest mass murder of Canadians in most recent history, not since 1989 when Marc Lepine shot and killed 14 women in what is known as the ‘Montreal Massacre’ have we witnessed so many tragic deaths.

As I watched the very moving multi-faith memorial service last Sunday night I was struck by the number of people who held up signs with the words on them “LOVE for all, HATRED for none.” The words of course come from the renowned prayer known as The Prayer of St. Francis. The song sung by The Willowdale Choir, Instruments of Peace was written by Don Moen and adapted from that memorable prayer, and the lyrics were more than appropriate for this solemn occasion. Pause with me for a moment, recite these words and let them sink deep into your heart. “Lord make us instruments of Your peace, where there is hatred let Your love increase. Lord make us instruments of Your peace, walls of pride and prejudice shall cease, when we are instruments of peace.” Imagine the unimaginable and what would appear to be a sheer impossibility! Suppose every Canadian was to make that prayer their personal passionate appeal to God, would we see a change in our neighbourhoods, in our towns and cities? Let me take that further and personalize that by asking you have you ever hated anyone? Is there someone in your past or in your present whom you dislike, detest, and maybe even abhor for whatever reason, whom you would have immense difficulty in making a pledge before God to love? Don’t you think your world would be a far better place, and you would have more peace in your heart if you would begin to love? Take a good look at our world, it’s not becoming a more loving place. Far from it. If anything, there is a noticeable increase in intolerance, prejudice, racism and xenophobia.

The Bible makes an illuminating statement about a day in the prophetic future that may not be so far away, or may well indeed be almost upon us. Writing to a young man by the name of Timothy whom he was mentoring, the great Apostle Paul would say, “But mark this, there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…...” (The Bible, 2 Timothy 3:1-4, New International Version)

Did you notice at the heart of those verses the words ‘without love’? Could you or I conceivably imagine living in a world without love? It’s emotional impact on the strongest of personalities could only be best expressed in the words of the Lennon/McCartney hit of yesteryear, A World Without Love – “Please lock me away and don’t allow the day here inside, where I hide with my loneliness, I don’t care what they say I won’t stay in a world without love.” Beyond you my friend in that world outside your front door there are dozens, or should I say hundreds, or let me qualify that further by saying, thousands, who desperately need to be loved. They may not be your colour, or religion, or ethnicity, or social status; there may even be parts of their character or lifestyle that you find completely distasteful. Make no mistake about it, some of their contemporaries hate them for any one or more of the foregoing reasons, but what if you were to make a new determination to live out everyday of your life the capitalized words on the placards displayed by those present at the Toronto vigil, the words, LOVE for all. HATRED for none.

What if? What if my friend? You may not change the world, but in your sphere of relationships believe me, you could have a profound impact! “Count me in,” you say. Good, I was hoping you’d say that, and here’s a good place to start. Right now, right where you are, stop for a brief moment and pray this short, simple prayer. Let it come straight from your heart. “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred…let me bring Your love. Amen.” 



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