The Knife Angel

National Monument against Violence and Aggression

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

Last week we read about the angel that sits on the work desk of one of our community members. This week we see a very different angel which can stir up quite conflicting emotions. It is a contemporary sculpture, created by artist Alfie Bradley in 2018. It stands 8 m tall and is made up of 100.000 knives handed in during weapon amnesties or confiscated by the police. The sculpture travels from city to city in the UK highlighting knife crime and aiming to educate young people on the effect of violent behaviour in our communities. The knives were individually cleaned, disinfected and blunted before being mounted. Some of them are engraved with personal messages written by both those grieving for loved ones as well as by perpetrators expressing repentance.

Reasons behind a culture of violence are complex, but often social inequality plays a role. The pandemic has had a great impact on the vulnerable and those suffering from anxiety, mental, social and long-term physical health problems. Young people have missed interaction with their peers during lockdown or may be trapped in unhappy homes. There is the risk of loneliness and isolation, increased social media or online pressure.

The sight of all those knives challenges me to think what we as Christians can do? Do we just read about it in the papers and shake our heads?

Throughout his ministry Jesus challenges us with his love and concern for those who fall through the cracks in society, for the marginalized, the isolated. In Luke’s gospel Jesus opens the scroll in the synagogue and reads:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Luke 4:18-19

Jesus helps those living on the edge discover personal and social values that go beyond the values promoted by the priveledged in society. He never tires of challenging the latter not to deny the marginalized the possibility of being integrated into society.

The words by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” also express the power of love over hate.

There are no pat answers, but the challenge remains for us as Christians to think outside the box, to stand together as churches of various denominations and find ways of working together to reach out to those on the edge. The engravings of the perpetrators on the knives are perhaps the first steps on a long road to peace and reconciliation, the first signs of light in the darkness…. an outstretched hand … will we take it our own?

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