Jesus' instruction to "Love Thy Neighbour" is central to the Christian faith. Join us as we consider what it means to allow our love for God to overflow in love for our neighbours, with Sydney Siege survivor Louisa Hope sharing her story.
Just over one year ago, a lone gunman walked into the Lindt Café in Sydney’s Martin Place, taking 10 customers and 8 employees hostage, and beginning what would become known as 'The Sydney Siege'.
For 16 hours, Australians watched and prayed as our television screens replayed images of hostages standing with hands pressed against the windows, and later of 5 terrified hostages escaping, over and over again. Churches and mosques opened for prayer. Terrorism commentators speculated as to the gunman’s motive. #PrayforSydney trended on social media.
The Sydney siege finally came to an end at 2.14am when Tactical Operations Unit police heard a shot fired inside the café and stormed the building, throwing stun grenades and firing upon the gunman. In the chaos, 34 year Lindt Café manager, Tori Johnson, and 38-year-old barrister Katrina Dawson were tragically killed, and 3 hostages along with a police officer were wounded.
52-year-old Louisa Hope was one of the hostages wounded, suffering a gunshot wound to the foot. A committed Christian, Louisa is passionate about her Saviour Jesus, and our beautiful country, Australia. She is strikingly full of life and hope, and provides a compelling example of how Christ’s love equips us to live full-hearted, generous lives.
We are blessed to have Louisa take the role of Ambassador for our ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ campaign, and give the first of our video reflections this Holy Week.
We know you will be impacted by Louisa's story and inspired by her determination to take an experience of horror and allow God to transform it into a beautiful opportunity to declare Jesus’ love.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12. 28-31(NIV)
- If you had been asked ‘which is the most important commandment of all?’ what might you have answered? What does Jesus emphasise?
- Who is the Lord your God? What might loving him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength look like this week?
- Who are your neighbours? Consider both those nearby and those more vulnerable neighbours further removed from your day to day life? What might loving them look like this week?
- What is the connection between loving God and neighbour? Can you have one without the other?
As we begin this week of devotions, walking with Jesus to the cross, and listening to his calls to ‘love thy neighbour’, what are your hopes and prayers? Bring them to God now.
TAKE IT FURTHER
"I am a product of multiculturalism and grace. The grandson of an Imam, the son of a Muslim and the cousin, nephew, uncle, and friend to many other Muslims. I am also the grandson of an Irish Catholic and a Protestant and, as a young woman, my Mum was active in the Methodist Church. As a kid, I would go to the mosque, and I’d also go to Sunday School at the local Baptist church."
To add another perspective on the challenge of loving our neighbour in 21stC Australia, why not read Aleem Ali's blog HERE.