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On war, peace and prayer.
By Greg Hughson in All Sorts
ANZAC day is about honouring those who fought and valuing peace; will be able to avoid another world war?"ON WAR, PEACE AND PRAYER"
This coming Tuesday will be ANZAC Day . This will be the sixth year I have helped organise and offer karakia/prayer at the Otago University Student's Association's service on campus. The service starts at 1.30pm and will be held in a new location this year, outside the staff club. There will also be a less formal Anzac Day Peace service around the Peace pole outside Otago Museum at 12.30pm. This service is organised each year by Otago University students who are studying at our National Centre for Peace and Conflict studies. You are invited to attend either or both services. I am very grateful to Dr George Davis for supplying readings for the 1.30pm service for the Mayor and others to read, and for his introduction to Ataturk's tribute which will be read by the Vice Chancellor.
The distinctive thing about the more formal 1.30pm "Honouring those who fought, valuing peace" service is that we plan it each year to be an intentionally bicultural event. The service commences with a Mihi Whakatau (welcoming speech) in Maori. Part of the opening prayer which I will offer will be in Maori. The message will be shared by the President of OUSA and the Tumuaki of Te Roopu Maori. The Kapa Haka performance to be offered by members of Te Roopu Maori will be a highlight, as will be the singing of the Maori Hymn "He Honore" . The ode to the fallen will be recited in both English and Maori.
It is significant that we choose so intentionally to affirm our bicultural journey in this context. This is very consistent with the bicultural commitment of our Methodist Church of NZ, Te Hahi Weteriana o Aotearoa, and of our wider national commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.
This year the Southern Youth Choir will sing, and lead us in the singing of both the NZ and Australian National Anthems. Otago students who are in the army reserves will be on parade.
The historic Otago University Medical Company Prayer will be read this year by Zoe Ogilvie, a medical student who is the current President of the Otago University Medical Christian Fellowship. The words which Zoe will pray are as follows :
"E Te Atua, Almighty and everlasting God, who through the healing touch of thy dear son didst recover the sick and relieve their pain, may we remember those who, with such love towards thee and devotion to duty, have served beneath thy Cross in the Otago University Medical Company, providing medical and dental support in times of war, peril, need, disaster and peace keeping, may we also, with them, at all times take with us the motto of the University of Otago, "SAPERE AUDE", have the courage to be wise, in all our duties for Elizabeth II our Queen and for Aotearoa/New Zealand. In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen."
I find this to be a very special prayer. The Otago University Medical Company indeed, in the past has provided quality support in times of war, disaster and peace keeping. The prayer is one of remembrance. We remember in this prayer those from our University - doctors and dentists - who, like Jesus helped "the sick to recover and relieved their pain". The prayer encourages us all to have the courage to be wise in all that we do.
It was wonderful a few weeks ago to have Otago students share their stories and wisdom with us in a combined Glenaven- Mornington Church service at Mornington.
In a world where the threat of another world war is sadly becoming more and more real, our world leaders need wisdom more than
ever before. Last month the Churches of South Korea wrote these words to President Donald Trump, on 16 March 2017 : Dear Mr. President,
On behalf of the National Council of Churches (NCCK), I bring the warmest greetings to you in the name of God of Peace. The National Council of Churches in Korea wishes to express our concern with the growing tensions on the Korean peninsula. We have heard your administration is considering a pre-emptive strike on North Korea as one of your options. We urge you to take this off the table, as it would guarantee an all-out war. Turning the Korean peninsula into a battlefield again would ensure our annihilation. We ask you to seek dialogue with North Korea immediately to decrease tensions. Dialogue is the only way toward de-escalation and convincing the North that their immediate survival is not at stake and does not depend on military defence. For the sake of our continued existence we call upon you to enter into dialogue and turn Northeast Asia away from what might begin a new world war.
Sincerely, Rev. Dr. Kim, Young Ju General Secretary National Council of Churches in Korea
Since President Trump has received this letter, the USA has bombed Syria and the President has (tragically) started to use God language to defend his warmongering. Let us pray that the USA will not bomb North Korea. May wisdom and sanity prevail, and Rev. Dr. Kim, Young Ju's sincerely wise words be heard, internalised and respected. Otherwise, Anzac Day next year will be quite different.
Rev. Greg Hughson Otago University Chaplain