6th August is the Feast of the Transfiguration and also the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945: a salutary and sombre juxtaposition of the manifestation of Divine Glory breaking into the world of time and space, and the depth of human folly with its capacity to blow up and destroy that world. Fr Rob Esdaile’s poem chosen for Reflection this week is a stark exposition of this contrast.
In April I was privileged to cruise into Nagasaki, Japan, where the B-29 Bomber Bockscar dropped the second atomic bomb, Fat Man, three days later, 9 April 1945. We visited the Atomic Bomb Museum, which presented a matter of fact exhibition of the lead-up to, and day of, the dropping of the bomb, with its devastating aftermath. The enormity and intensity of the destruction was overwhelming. Grimly moving. Afterwards we walked up to the Peace Park, a beautiful and peaceful place, with statuary presented by nations around the world bearing messages and aspirations for peace. The trauma for the city and for so many thousands of people was and is deep and long-term; nonetheless it is remarkable how quickly, despite it all, the city has resurrected itself.
‘Never again,’ the world has cried – after the Great War, and then after the nuclear bombing on Japan. It brings to mind the words of the hymn, ‘Their cry goes up, How long?’ A world which still waits and longs for peace is increasingly divided and torn apart, with the spectre of global conflict and possible use of nuclear weapons looming on the horizon.
On this anniversary it behoves us to come before God with penitence for human inhumanity to one another, and with prayerful longing, with the Psalmist (Psalm 122), for the peace of Jerusalem and for the peace of the world. With prayer too that each and all of us may be people of peace, in our neighbourhoods, in our church, in our relationships, and in our hearts.
The Transfiguration gives us hope in the midst of all this that God’s glory in Christ will break and shine through amongst and around us in our world today. For, to continue the hymn,
“’Mid toil and tribulation and tumult of our war,
We wait the consummation of peace forevermore;
Till with the vision glorious, our longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious shall be the Church at rest.”
(Common Praise 525)