Thursday, December 17, 2015

#AdventWord #DESIRE - A Screaming Silence for Peace

Today's #AdventWord is #DESIRE
I feel very moved to share this photo today, taken by someone in the Anglican Diocese of Raiwind in Lahore, Pakistan. It shows a student standing in silent memorial yesterday, December 16th, 2015, on the first anniversary of one of the most horrific acts of terrorism and violence the country of Pakistan has experienced. On December 16th, 2014, 141 people were slaughtered in a violent extremist attack at the Army Public School in the city of Peshawar. 132 of those killed when the terrorists suddenly burst in and opened fire were children. 
They were all our brothers and sisters. 
Photo by Diocese of Raiwind (on their public FB page)
Imagine if you will, attending that school today. 
In silence, they prayed for peace.
Consider how resilient the students and staff are and how brave, how decidedly defiant of actions such as this. As pointed out by The Church of Pakistan - Pakistan is a nation of peace lovers, also fighting against terror. The Peshawar incident forced Pakistan at last to confront the Islamist militancy tearing at its own people, not to mention, the world. It enraged the public and politicians. It ignited more of a wide-spread desire to combat terror. I am more than thrilled to see several social media initiatives begun by concerned Muslims and other peace makers that say extremist terrorist actions do NOT represent them. Check out #NotInMyName if you have time. It is WELL worth it.

Other Articles and Info:
2014 Peshawar School Massacre - Wiki
Pakistan remembers Peshawar Army Public School attack - BBC
No end to Pakistan school's trauma, one year on - Al Jazeera

I didn't hear about this remembrance yesterday or the day before. It seems to be off of our US radar, but it shouldn't be (lots of things shouldn't be). I'm grateful to have met Bishop Samuel Azariah, Moderator of The Church of Pakistan and Bishop of Raiwind at the Episcopal 78th General Convention and I truly appreciate their diocesan facebook page - where I saw their post about the memorial yesterday. I follow them avidly and I am continually reminded that we are partners. WE make up the Anglican Communion, together. WE are brothers and sisters. I am examining new ways to become connected and to help foster awareness between partners in areas where connections seem infrequent. 
Here is some information about the Diocese, directly from their website: 

" The Church of Pakistan is the result of the union of four denominations: Anglicans, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterians (Scottish), which took place in 1970. Initially, there were four dioceses in the Church of Pakistan, i.e. Karachi, Multan, Lahore and Sialkot, but in 1980, through a special resolution and for better ministerial work, four new dioceses were created: Hyderabad, Raiwind, Faisalabad and Peshawar. There is a presiding bishop for the Church of Pakistan who is known as the Moderator and has responsibility for a three year term. The united Church of Pakistan is the second largest church in the country after the Roman Catholic Church."

The Diocese of Raiwind experienced bombings in 2013 and 2014 and several bombings in the spring of 2015 that have remained in my thoughts. We lifted them in prayer at St. Paul's Episcopal. The two churches that were bombed in 2015 were St. John's Roman Catholic Church in Peshawar and Christ Church in Lahore (a Church of Pakistan church and a member of the Anglican Communion.) At the time, I couldn't get over how strong in spirit those affected were or how awful the situation had become with regards to religious intolerance. Just how does one recover from a suicide bombing and retain faith in the community? This kind of thing means that the community needs you even more.
Here is the link to the Diocese of Raiwind's Facebook post and their photos. They are so active in peacemaking and such a positive and beautiful tribute to purity of heart and action. They often hold educational gatherings and events to promote peace and well-being.
Dio of Raiwind FB page 
Both photos I've shared today move me tremendously. Because I love space, I also share NASA's image of our Earth from space, a space that, in silence, covers our joys, our sorrows, our successes, our downfalls, and by its very existence, silently screams for peace. May God have mercy on us and guide us through this Advent of Humanity until we reach his light of unity.
***** Basic info and some interesting statistics here about Christianity in Pakistan.
The Episcopal New Service article HERE about the 2015 Pakistani bombings is eye-opening. In 2013, there were also bombings in Peshawar and Lahore. An article by the Episcopal Digital Network has details HERE. In looking for other info about the bombings, I also found this.

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