Sydney siege: peace amid the fear
This morning Sydney has woken to the tragic news of the end of the Lindt chocolate café siege in Martin Place.
However inevitable it was that one day the horrors of terrorism should knock on our own door here in Sydney, it still comes as an enormous shock. The most challenging aspect of such terror is that it takes away the innocence of relationships and causes us to look at one another with suspicion rather than trust. One of the most positive features of the last 24 hours has been a small contribution on social media that went viral around the world, indicating our need to stand with those in our community who may feel under threat or fear at this time. It is extremely important that we do not interpret this incident as an expression of one particular culture or another. Such evil action has been rightly condemned by most people of all religions and none.
Today our Wesley Church on the ground floor of our Pitt Street headquarters will be open for prayer for our staff, volunteers and any who may care to step in to spend a moment in the presence of God. One of the most important aspects for all of us must be to centre our lives once again upon God.
The response of our police and security officials has been exemplary in hugely difficult circumstances. In the end, they were left little choice other than to bring the situation to a close. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have died and with the surviving hostages and their loved ones. Their lives will never be the same again. A disturbance to our daily lives such as this will raise questions for many people and we need to be available to support one another and offer reassurance and friendship. Our whole community needs that at this time.
How do we make sense of this in the Advent season and in such close proximity to Christmas? What I can say is that the gift of God in Christ did not happen in a comfortable, safe and protected environment; he came into this world and was exposed to all its potential dangers. The vulnerability of the Christ Child speaks clearly to us today. May God grant to us his presence and his peace.