Bishop of Jarrow delivers his thinking on World Peace
 Bishop of Jarrow delivers his thinking on World Peace

Bishop of Jarrow delivers his thinking on World Peace

The Rt Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow joined a panel of speakers at Hartlepool’s Nasir Mosque to talk about what it might take to realise world peace.

The seminar organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community focused on bringing religious leaders and a politics to the table to hear speeches and to take questions from the assembled audience which came from across the local community.

As well as Bishop Mark, Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland – Barry Coppinger and the Imam of London – Moulana Ataul Mujeeb Rashed also spoke.

 In his talk, Bishop Mark said: “It is a huge honour to be invited to address you.  In a world that is so sad in so many ways, it is good that all men, women and children of peace should celebrate our common dream and I hope that my being here this afternoon is in a very small way just that; it is about our celebrating together our common dream for world peace.

“As a Christian when I talk about peace, I do not simply mean an end to fighting and wars, wonderful as that may be but I think that when I talk about peace, I mean the world becoming the sort of place which Jesus Christ came to bring into the world.  A world where all men and women and children can live together in peace and harmony, where their basic needs are met and where nobody is left out.  That, I hope and believe, is something of our common dream.

“We all know from our own human experience that peace is contagious.  We all know, for example, that if we are somewhere and somebody smiles at us or is kind to us or says something good to us then we feel better and we are far more likely to be kinder and more loving to the people we meet, and equally, of course, it works the other way round: if somebody is cross or unkind to us, we will feel hurt and are much more likely to go off and be unkind or uncaring to someone else.  So peace is contagious and world peace begins with me.

Bishop Mark went on to talk about the work of Coventry Cathedral (where he spent many years) in the area of reconciliation and how that came about because of the horror that was inflicted on it, the city and its people during the second world war.

Iain Wright MP said: “We are in a time of great instability, change and the unknown a time where words are important. We must take care of how we talk to each other to avoid the creation of hate – there has been many examples this year alone. My colleague Jo Cox MP who was brutally murdered earlier this year is an example. It’s alleged that whilst being murdered, the words ‘Britain First’ were recited – it’s terrible that words are used in this way!

Jo’s husband, like the story of Coventry Cathedral used the situation not for retribution but to look for peace and reconciliation – hate is poison – words matter!

Maulana Ataul Mujeeb Rashed – imam of London Mosque said: “The journey of peace begins from each individual – trying to find their own peace – to bless your own-self with the feeling of peace this can lead to world peace – because it spreads!”

 Rt Revd Mark Bryant - Bishop of Jarrow, Maulana Ataul Mujeeb Rashed - imam of London Mosque, Iain Wright MP

Rt Revd Mark Bryant – Bishop of Jarrow, Maulana Ataul Mujeeb Rashed – imam of London Mosque, Iain Wright MP

The full speech given by Bishop Mark is presented below:

Bishop Mark’s talk to the seminar.

Talk for Sunday 6 November 2016 – Hartlepool Mosque

First of all, let me say an enormous thank you to all for having me and for the invitation.  It is a huge honour to be with you but perhaps just a bit daunting to be given as my title “How to achieve world peace” but in a world which is often sad and where we hear of fighting and war and bloodshed in many of the countries of the world, where in our own country we heard this week that 120,000 children will be homeless this Christmas.  In a world that is so sad in so many ways, it is good that all men, women and children of peace should celebrate our common dream and I hope that my being here this afternoon is in a very small way just that; it is about our celebrating together our common dream for world peace.

As a Christian when I talk about peace, I do not simply mean an end to fighting and wars, wonderful as that may be but I think that when I talk about peace, I mean the world becoming the sort of place which Jesus Christ came to bring into the world.  A world where all men and women and children can live together in peace and harmony, where their basic needs are met and where nobody is left out.  That, I hope and believe, is something of our common dream.

As a Christian Bishop I often wear a cross around my neck and I have deliberately today chosen to wear this cross which is made of three nails.

This cross comes from the Cathedral in Coventry in the West Midlands and before I came to the North East, nine years ago, I worked in Coventry and for some of that time was involved with the life of the Cathedral.

On the night of November 14th 1940, at the beginning of the Second World War, Coventry was bombed by five hundred and fifteen bombers from the German Air Force.  In one night, more than four thousand three hundred homes were destroyed and around two thirds of the city’s buildings were damaged.

Well in excess of five hundred people were killed with many hundreds of others badly injured.  The damage to the city was devastating and in the bombing the ancient Cathedral Church of St Michael was destroyed.

The day after or very shortly after the bombing, two very significant things happened.  First of all, the man who was in charge of the Cathedral, the Provost, wrote up inside the ruins of the bombed Cathedral the words Father Forgive and a few months later on Christmas Day, in a broadcast that went around many countries of the world he said that when the war was over he would work with those who had been our enemies “to build a kinder more Christ child like world”.  He was certain that the only way forward when the war was over was to forgive our enemies.

Also, as they were clearing up after the bombing raid, somebody noticed that the ground was full of nails which had fallen from the wooden roof as the Cathedral had burnt.  Somebody began to gather these nails up and to make them in to crosses very much like this cross of nails which I wear around my neck today.  And when that war was over, crosses of nails from Coventry went all around the world to different places that were involved in reconciliation so in a number of places in Germany you will find crosses of nails.  At the time of apartheid in South Africa, places that were working to bring together the different races also received crosses of nails.

And thus Coventry Cathedral has become a centre for reconciliation and a centre for peace which is known throughout the world.

Every day in Coventry Cathedral at 12 o’clock a short prayer of reconciliation is prayed in which we all acknowledge our failure to live peacefully and lovingly with one another and each day at the end of that prayer there are read some words from the Christian Bible which say: be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.  And on many occasions I have led those prayers myself often in the ruins of the old bombed Cathedral.

And so when I wear this cross it reminds me that I am somebody who needs to be committed to world peace and to reconciliation.

And incidentally, if you ever see photographs of Archbishop Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, you will see more often than not that he is wearing a cross of nails just like this, only as I like to remind him when I see him, I have had my cross of nails just a little bit longer than he has.

I was saying that when I wear this cross it reminds me that I need to be committed to world peace and to reconciliation.

Because the matter of fact is that we can rail against the leaders of the different countries, we can complain about the way they go on fighting one another and the way that they do not work for peace but the place where world peace begins is with me.  It is about how I live by life day by day; it is about how I treat other people; it is about whether I live my life with peace in my heart.

And we all know from our own human experience that peace is contagious.  We all know, for example, that if we are somewhere and somebody smiles at us or is kind to us or says something good to us then we feel better and we are far more likely to be kinder and more loving to the people we meet, and equally, of course, it works the other way round: if somebody is cross or unkind to us, we will feel hurt and are much more likely to go off and be unkind or uncaring to someone else.  So peace is contagious and world peace begins with me.

So how do I become a person of peace?

Perhaps we all start in a different way but for me the starting point is the way I say my prayer and the way I practice my meditation.

We will all say our prayer in different ways and we will all perhaps practice meditation in different ways but let me simply tell you a little bit about how I do it, and I learn more and more how much I need to do it because I notice that when I do not do it, I am often a less peaceful and less kind and less loving person.

In recent years, I have been very influenced by the writings of a man called Ignatius, who lived in Spain in the 1600’s.  He began life as a very brilliant and successful soldier and he dreamed of being a very great soldier and winning the love of beautiful women.  However, Ignatius had a very bad and painful accident and while he was recovering from his accident he heard the stories about Jesus and he became a Christian and decided that he wanted to give up being a soldier and be the sort of soldier who followed Christ.

And Ignatius has written some wonderful things about how we might say our prayers, many of which we still practice today.

So what this helps me to do is to live my life more thankfully and I discover that when I live my life more thankfully I have a greater sense of my oneness with God, a greater sense of peace and I start to discover that it is easier for me to see God in all things.

I am learning that when I live my life thankfully then I become just a little bit more a person of peace.

World peace is a very big task but however it is, it begins with me and that perhaps is how together we share and start to bring to birth our common dream for world peace.

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