I switched on the news this morning to hear of the ‘presumed terrorist’ attack at the Berlin Christmas market.
Some immediate thoughts:
The Christmas market is so much a traditional part of German culture and tradition – here in the Netherlands I have had Dutch friends say – the German Christmas markets are the best.
It is a market but also a Christmas market and so related to the historic Christian faith of much of Germany.
I mention both of these things because the indicate perhaps something of the symbolic cultural significance of this event in addition to the painful and heartbreaking human tragedy and loss.
I immediately thought of colleagues in Berlin based in the German Baptist Union and the Baptist Theological Seminary in Elstal.
We at IBTSC Amsterdam today prayed for them even as they too will meet to pray.
This event presumably represents the violence of extremism and will encourage similar responses.
In Churches at Christmas we will speak of ‘peace’ but the danger is that we speak ‘peace, peace’ when there is no peace and reduce the message to vacuous wishful thinking.
Peace cannot be wished – it has to be worked at to be achieved.
Here the initiatives of ‘Just Peacemaking’ as advocated not least by the late Glen Stassen in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr come to mind as expressions of ‘tender hears and tough thinking’ (King).
I cannot help but think that at times as the Christian Church faffs about looking for an identity and purpose and cause and role – that it has one staring in its face. One, however, that is so demanding and truly counter cultural that it cannot embrace the sheer call of the one who we hail as the Prince of Peace.