Ministers Letter – September 2006

Rev. Ray Coates
Dear Dear Friends

It was my birthday in July and one of those special birthdays at that. There were many surprises for me, all of them pleasant, and at least one present that was not unexpected because I’d requested it. My daughter bought me a rather unique CD, one I’d seen recommended in the Classic FM Magazine, and already I’ve had great pleasure in listening to it.

The two main works are by Mozart, a Sinfonia Concertante, and by Beethhoven, his 5th Symphony, the one with a famous beginning that later became associated with “V for Victory”. Musically it is superb, one of the best things I’ve ever heard, and it is a recording of a live concert given in August 2005 in Palestinian Ramallah. The Conductor is a Jew called Daniel Barenboim and at the end of a 5 minute standing ovation he gave a powerful speech.

The orchestra he had been conducting was the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and was a youth orchestra many of whose players were from Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Jordan. Along with the late Edward Said, a Palestinian writer, he had established this orchestra to bring together young musicians from across the political divide in the Middle East. They recognised that while music itself would not solve the Arab-Israeli conflict any more than fighting would, it could bring people together and help break down barriers. Believing that there can be no military solution, their hope was that music would heal and help to bring understanding and tolerance of different beliefs and cultures. An emotional Barenboim said, “It is our belief that the destinies of these two peoples, Israel and Palestine, are inextricably linked…either we kill each other or we share what there is to share. It is this message we have come here to bring.” The final message of peace was brought not with speeches but with music as they played an encore, “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said and young musicians are doing something to promote peace. In such situations and wherever we may encounter conflict, their message is powerful and challenges us – “What can we do to work for real, lasting peace?” Go with the song, ”Make me a channel of your peace” and offer yourself wherever you can to seek and work for the good of your communities and our world.

With much love,
Your Minister and friend