Monday, May 24, 2010

thoughts on war and peace and worship

This morning I spent some time researching refugees from the Middle East. Refugees don't just go to another country to get a better job or higher-quality possessions. They go because they want to get away from nightmarish circumstances, to be safe and free. They have seen war in real time, not just in movies. They've experienced the atrocities that make me squirm just to read about them. They are not enemies - they are victims who show tremendous courage.

I was reading about Yemen, and how it is a member of the Arab League, predominantly Muslim, a place for growing al-Qaeda groups, and a place that has no diplomatic relationship with Israel. Conflicts in the north have forced civilians to leave their homes and seek safety elsewhere. It is also one of the poorest countries in the world, and it shoulders a great burden of being a refuge for Somali and Ethiopian refugees, a burden that is draining their already weak economy.

In ancient times it was a trading place for spices such as frankincense and myrrh. Immediately my mind went to the wise men who came from the East to worship the baby Jesus, who brought these spices as an offering of worship. A quick look at my map confirmed that this part of the world is indeed east of Israel. Could the wise men have come from such places as Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, or Afghanistan? It struck me as a very interesting idea, that these men from the east were looking for Messiah and acknowledged Jesus as the Saviour and King, bowing down in honor to him. The fact that he was Jewish didn't seem to matter that much to these men. What a beautiful heritage... and talk about an international peace meeting! "Peace on earth, goodwill to men..."

Where Jesus is, there is peace. Maybe not the kind of peace we would like, where people are all treated with love and respect, or where arguments are settled through reasonable discussion and compromise... but there is inner peace which is not limited or dependent on the condition of this fallen world. There is peace in knowing who he is and why he came and what his desire is for us... there is peace in knowing him personally, following him faithfully, trusting him implicitly. Perhaps Jesus was thinking especially of refugees when he said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart - I have overcome the world!"

Pray that the Yemeni people will come to Jesus as the wise men did, acknowledging him as the King and Saviour that they have waited for. Pray that they will become open to hearing the good news of Jesus, and that they will take heart as they find hope in him.

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