Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Isaiah prophesied that a Messiah would be born and that he would be called “Prince of Peace.” But after three years of public ministry Jesus suffered a brutal, violent, death. How do we begin to understand the kind of peace Jesus embodied, and come to terms with its consequences? Throughout his life, Jesus' acts of healing and reconciliation provoked the authorities. Where others drew dividing lines of exclusion, he reached out and built relationship. He had a reputation for socialising with “sinners”; he spoke to those that others considered unclean; he reconciled social outcasts back into community, and healed Roman oppressors. He chose for his disciples a group of mostly disenfranchised men who would have had their own sources of conflict (one of them was a tax collector who exploited the rest of the community!). He taught his followers to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile rather than retaliate. Jesus understood that this subversive vision of peace would be experienced as a threat, claiming "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matt 10:34).
This season we're partnering with Youth Link in Northern Ireland who have more than 25 years of experience of doing youth work in the context of a historic and often violent conflict. They are sharing reflections with us from the frontline of their work, alongside contributors from South Africa and sunny Luton.