Christians and Muslims can be friendsChristians and Muslims can be friendsChristians and Muslims can be friendsChristians and Muslims can be friendsChristians and Muslims can be friendsChristians and Muslims can be friendsChristians and Muslims can be friendsChristians and Muslims can be friends
These are dark days. We’ve seen the most horrible face of bigotry on display, and so close to our own shores. I’m referring, of course, to the terrible massacre of our sisters and brothers at prayer in the Christchurch Mosque. Yes, the crime was committed in Christchurch, New Zealand, and that’s not exactly next door if you live in Sydney. Even so, the massacre was apparently carried out by an Australian, and the location seems to have been chosen both to maximise casualties and to let all of us in this part of the world know that it could have happened in our own backyards.
I dropped in on our friends at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre in Earlwood shortly after the terrible shooting. It’s the first time I can remember where the front door was locked and I that needed to be identified via the video-intercom before being invited in. Those I spoke to were understandably shaken. Who knows what the ramifications of this terrible crime will be?
We need to pray for those who are grieving and for those now struggling with fear. For me personally, this also motivates me to get my “Christians and Muslims can be friends” book published. The pictures you see above are some of those featured in the book. The book is currently in the review stage. I’m listening to the comments of proof-readers and making final updates. Let me know if you’d like to be a part of that review team.
The only positive I can see in this tragedy is that it does present all of us who are long-term residents of my country with an opportunity to get alongside our friends in the Islamic community and various immigrant communities, as this violence seems to have been targeted against all non-white immigrants, and not only against Muslims in particular. Let’s at least take this opportunity to show our sisters and brothers of all races and creeds that maniacs like this shooter do not represent the rest of us – indeed, that we are better than this.
Pray with me that somehow our God will work through this terrible tragedy to build a more compassionate community with greater openness, understanding and unity.
Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Lent – traditionally, a day of somber reflection, and one that always features the Gospel story of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, as recorded this year in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4.
We tend to see this narrative as Jesus modelling for us how we should deal with temptation. This is almost certainly NOT what the Gospel writer is offering us here. The temptations Jesus deals with are very specific to Jesus and His mission, though that is not to say that they are not relevant to us. Indeed, that may make them more relevant!
The other big thing for me at the moment is my fight next Friday. Things like this shooting put my little projects in perspective. Even so, this is a big event for me.
My opponent is much younger and much more experienced. If you can join me at Club Punchbowl for the fight, I could do with your support. In truth, I do need to sell a few more tickets. The only funds I get from the fight are the commissions I get on the tickets I sell, and I need to sell thirty tickets just to cover my opponent’s purse. If I can’t sell that many tickets, I’ll be paying for the privilege of fighting. Not good.
Having said that, I’m confident that I will sell enough tickets, and I’m confident that I’ll not only cover my opponent’s purse but will raise some decent funds that I can put towards our next Boxers for Peace mission to Syria. If you’d like to be a part of the show, regular tickets are $60 and ringside table seats (with food and alcoholic drinks provided) are $220 each. If you can’t give me the cash in person, you can order your tickets here I will mail them to you.
Forgive me for concluding today on a commercial note. Profiting from my fight is certainly not my life’s priority. Indeed, surviving the fight is a far greater priority. Even so, for me all these things are connected – the battle in the ring and the battle for a more open and human community. We each need to fight the good fight as best we are able, and there’s a lot more than money at stake.
If you can’t make it to Club Punchbowl next Friday, keep me in your prayers as I do you.
Yours in the Good Fight,