by Reid Matthias
War. Jesus spoke pointedly to the disciples about their questions of the end times, including war:
‘Watch out that no-one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Messiah”, and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of the birth pains’ (Matthew 24:4-8).
From our vantage point on the southern curve of the planet, we have not seen war on Australian soil since Japanese bombers rained destruction on Darwin in World War II.
Generations have passed since that great and monstrous conflict and slowly, but surely, the understanding of war has diminished.
However, the fear of war perhaps has increased for many of us.
No-one is immune from the fear and the terror of war, but most people in Australia are insulated from the realities of it; the death and destruction and the torturous pain of loss has been left to other corners of the globe.
But we still hear about the war – and the rumours of the faceless conflict – against the undefeatable foe of terror.
Most Christians would like to say they deal with it in the way that they have been given – through prayer and meditation. In many cases this is the only course of action at hand.
But the truth of the matter is that even the Christian is not immune to the great sickness that sweeps across the planet like the pandemics of old, a spiritual tuberculosis that removes our breath and causes our hearts to seize in the fear this terror will engulf even Terra Australis.
And how do we know this? Because the other insipid malady that mows down large swathes of the western world is what I call ‘intellectual bulimia’.
We gorge ourselves on the news bites and sound bites from the array of screens in front of us. They tell us not only that the war is imminent but that death by terror is lurking behind every closed door.
The terror has swallowed us.
But, in the midst of the abyss of terror, no different than the blackness that engulfed the Place of the Skull 2000 years ago, a light continues to shine from the empty tomb of fear.
This gift of God – which is a flame that shines light into the edges of a world bleeding profusely from the ravages of war – is yours and mine.
Reid Matthias is Parish Team Pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Para Vista, in South Australia.