The positive messages from the families and friends of Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, after the murder of their beloved, are truly inspirational and fitting echoes to young lives lived well, given to the service of others, and in particular the rehabilitation of prisoners

There is much irony and ire surrounding the early release of Khan, who wreaked havoc with violence and thrust a knife into the heart of peacemaking. Set within the context of the run-up to a UK election, this tragedy runs the risk of being hijacked or ignored by politicians.

Before we demonise people like Usman Khan and idolise people like the Polish hospitality worker and former prisoner, with his own history of terrible violence, I ask questions of myself and us all (especially those standing for election) in regard to the choices we have to make in regard to the kind of country we want to build and be an active part of. London Bridge isn’t in danger of falling down, but our society is. With respect, concern and appreciation for the deceased, injured, traumatised and those who risked their own lives to restrain and divert Usman Khan, I use this raw story to highlight (as I see it) the choices we and our country have to make? As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “The line between good and evil runs through every one of us.”

Our choices are between: cowardice -&- courage; violence -&- peace-making; self-service -&- self-sacrifice; slavery to fear, bitterness, and hatred -&- freedom to learn, love and transform; locking life up in clichés -&- freeing life with fresh understanding and humility; fundamental ideology -&- neighbourly love; injustice -&- justice, mercy and grace. In reality, these are choices between: homelessness -&- home security; hunger -&- food provision; a crumbling health service -&- an NHS we’re all proud of; loneliness -&- friendship; abusing planet earth -&- eco-friendliness; me-myself-eye disease -&- a readiness ‘to go the extra mile’ with others; purposelessness in unemployment -&- significance, purpose, work and dignity offered to all; oppression and depression -&- Wellbeing (body, mind & spirit); etc.

someone said, “It’s better to light a candle than to complain about the darkness.” And, as Christmas approaches, we celebrate God’s Light born and beaming through The Christ child. Here’s his manifesto:

Arriving at a quiet place, Jesus sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.” (Matthew 5:2-10 / MSG)

Yes, may the light lit by Jack & Saskia, these precious peacemakers, burn long and bright, and cut through the darkness within & without, spurring us to daily make positive choices!