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The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has joined calls for prayer and international assistance for Iraqi Christians facing severe persecution, even death, for their faith.
“It is an outrage that a community established in the early centuries of the Christian era should face expulsion from their own land, simply for their faith.” Dr Davies said in a public statement.
In Mosul, near the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh, the militant Islamic group ISIS gave Christians an ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay a “protection tax” or face death.
Churches have been looted, burned or occupied. Christian homes have been marked with the Arabic letter “N” (for the word ‘Nasrani’ which translates to ‘Nazarene’, a follower of Jesus). Thousands of Christian families have been driven from the city.
The Archbishop called on churches to pray for peace and justice in Iraq and also for Palestinian Christians caught in the conflict on the West Bank and the Gaza.
“We have entered a period of significant suffering for Christians around the world: from Iraq to Syria and from Egypt to Sudan.” the Archbishop said. “While the Cross is the symbol of suffering for all who are followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we have a responsibility to stand with our brothers and sisters in the face of such unmitigated persecution.”
Our nation has been disgusted with how the MH17 crash site has been treated.
The possessions of the deceased have been robbed and rummaged through, and it’s made us angry.
Even worse is the warning from our Prime Minister that some Australian bodies may never return home.
This upsets us because we feel the need for dignity in this time of grief.
As the Anglican funeral service describes it, we long to “dispose reverently of the mortal body.”
Even though our flesh and blood is only a perishable container for our imperishable spirit, we rightly wish to treat our deceased with dignity.
Yet there is another reason that we want to have proper funerals for the victims of this act of terrorism.
As the Prayer Book adds, we wish “to come together to mourn a relative, to honour a departed friend… and to show sympathy with the bereaved.”
And most importantly, as we stand in the presence of the deceased, our own mortality is brought into sharp focus.
For “the life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (Psalm 103:15-17)