Far away from Africa in a corner of SE Europe a war raged that ended with a truce a few days ago. It could have been South Sudan, Mali or Mozambique: people failing to sink their differences and live together in peace.
In this case it is a dispute between two Caucasian republics; Azerbaijan and Armenia. The former is Muslin, the latter Christian. The problem was that many Armenians lived in an area within Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh and, at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, they wanted to join Armenia, now an independent state. Azerbaijan did not accept this and so war and death reigned in the 1990s.
Now war has just flared up again but the Russians have leant heavily on their former ‘colonies’ and managed to persuade them into a truce which recognises the Azeri gains which were considerable in the recent short war. Why I mention all this is because of the scenes on TV which are so deeply painful and are reminiscent of similar scenes in Africa and indeed in other parts of the world. You see people in Baku, the Azeri capital, dancing and rejoicing in the streets. Then you move to Yerevan, the Armenian capital, to see widows and mothers weeping and lamenting over their husbands and sons killed in the fighting.
A reporter asked an Azeri, ‘Can you now begin to live together with Armenians side by side?’ and the reply came; ‘Our children may see this.’ It is an honest answer. It will take time. It took time for the Germans and French to live side by side after three major wars. It took time of for the Irish and the English to live side by side after 700 years of colonisation. Elizabeth was Queen for 60 years before the time was right for her to set foot in Ireland. And it is taking time for the many divisions in Africa to heal. It all comes down to attitude. Do I see the other person as a threat or as a fellow pilgrim doing the best she or he can? The more we put a good interpretation on the efforts of others to live their lives as best they can the sooner we will ‘see this’ and live together in peace.
This Sunday’s parable, about a corrupt businessman praising his associates for making 100% profits, is a daring lesson in seizing the moment for making peace or any other activity that will hasten the reign of God. As we near the end of the Church’s year we are given lesson after lesson in acting – and not letting opportunity slip like the man who hid his master’s money in a field because he was afraid to do anything.
15 Nov 2020 Sunday 33 A Prov 31: 10…31 1 Thes 5:1-6 Matt 25: 14-30