Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sri Lankan Christians in UK Remember Fallen Soldiers and Offer Thanks to Those Fighting Terrorism

"By this holy mass, Christians of the United kingdom remembered with gratitude - and gave thanks for the brave and strong-minded soldiers, sailors and airmen and women who have sacrificed their lives to protect Sri Lanka against what is maybe the most wickedness form of terrorism in the world" said Rev. Tony de Alwis addressing a service of remembrance and thanksgiving holy mass at the Church of St. Mary Magdalen, Willesden Greeen, London.
Rev. Tony de Alwis said, "We will remember with gratitude-and give thanks for -the soldiers , sailors and airmen and women who have sacrificed their valuable lives in order to defend our country against what is maybe the most evil form of terrorism the world has known from modern times. Further, through the medium of this Mass we want to hand over our troops who are motionless engaged in that struggle to Almighty God's care and to ask that he will bless and straight all those who give armed and political leadership to them."
The joint Protestant-Catholic mass of remembrance and thanks giving "for the valiant members of the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka who have died or are busy in the move violently against terrorism" was held for the first time in the United Kingdom. Many Buddhist monks, on invite converged on the church from Cheswick, Kingsbury, and Birmingham and were seated in a special field arrangement close to the altar, showing their solidarity, led by Venerable Dr. Haandupalpola Mahinda Nayaka Thero. The church also put up Buddhist flags welcoming them.
An expatriate Sri Lankan child, Miss Kesara Ushettige clad in a fancy dress of the army fatigues, and emblematically carrying the Sri Lanka Army flag walked in the march that took Rev. Father Tony de Alwis, Church of England cleric and Rev. Nimal Ponweera, the Chief celebrant of the mass and chaplain of the Sri Lankan Catholic community in the Diocese of West Minister, from the entry of the church to the altar. The procession marched to the tune of traditional Sri Lankan drummers and the celebratory sounds of a conch blower clad in colorful costumes.
Sri Lanka's London High Commissioner Justice Nihal Jayasinghe placed the commemoration flower wreath of red poppies at the altar. Distinguished visitors counting the High Commissioner and Mrs. Vajira Jayasinghe lit the traditional oil lamp before starting the sacred mass. Head of the Parish Rev. Father Hugh MacKenzie welcomed the enormous crowd who congregated for the Holy Mass.
Delivering his homily Rev. Father Tony de Alwis further said, "Father Nimal Ponweera and I strong-minded that it would be completely fitting that we should offer this Holy Mass for the relax of the souls of our brave troops who have laid down their valuable lives in order that the territorial sincerity of our island nation may be potted and the sole individuality of our people tenable for the prospect generations."
Father de Alwis said, he and Father Ponweera also wanted to dismiss the fallacy that the Christians of Sri Lanka were unpatriotic by telling publicly how devoted they were to mother Lanka.
He said, " It is a substance of huge sadness for us Christians to understand that we are sometimes treated with huge contract of doubt by our fellow Sri Lankans. We are portrayed as people who do not actually love our country. Our commitment to our state is questioned. Some even consider that , on occasion , we come into view to have sided with the enemy. Now I do not know for a moment blame anyone who think in that way about us. .Why? because the ultimate blame for such a poor picture being predictable of us rests fairly and directly on the shoulders of some of our own Christian leaders who have acted thoughtlessly and insensitively, if not downright foolishly, that is, when they have acted at all , or have otherwise remained quiet when the situation demanded that they should speak out without fear or prevarication."
"Now, thanks to a combination of enthused political leadership,' said Father de Alwis, " and devoted and courageous military leadership , our little island home stands balanced to overthrow the criminal bunch of criminals who , for the last thirty years or so have terrorized our country Today, their claim to invincibility now lies in tatters. Today, the leaders of that bunch of criminals who sent young unsuspecting cadres to their early death also as walking bombs or on the battleground whilst they themselves in bunkers reason built for their comfort, securely and security , are finding that those self under control bolt homes far from being their refuge , are quick gratifying their tombs."
Father Tony De Alwis said while rejoicing the about to happen beat of organized terror the state must be prepared for the episode of time emerging after the war which he called "a greater challenge." He called the confront opposite both the people and the administration as the job of defusing volatile issues that could destroy countrywide cohesiveness and agreement in the future.
Reminding much work is by now being done in that way under the President he said it should be made likely for all our races to be pleased and arrogant to vow loyalty to a common homeland. Reminding the nation not to allow spiritual discord to creep into the space vacated by communal tensions if that happens the blood hut by the country's brave troops would be in vain.
insistent the state to hear them , Rev. De Alwis said , " We Christians are totally committed to take our place alongside Sri Lankans of all other faiths and backgrounds in meeting the tackle of transformation our nation when the ghost of terrorism has lastly being lifted off the fair face of our motherland."
He said they pledged to stand with others in being a bonfire of light to all those who are worried with establishing a just and fair civilization in our country when the present conflict is over. " We surely want to share with you the responsibility of ensuring that Sri Lanka achieve that true greatness of which we know she is very, capable" he said.
High Commissioner Nihal Jayasinghe in respond to the cleric said the young people who did the highest give up for the country have done so , as Churchill said for our own tomorrow. He certain Father Tony de Alwis that there is no indictment at all on Christians that they are unpatriotic.
Venerable Dr. Haandupelpola Mahinda Thero also assured that there was no such general blame of non patriotism placed against Christians in the country. He said the attempt of the two priests of the country who want to pray for an complete Sri Lanka should get delivery of the approval of the whole nation.
Rev. Father Nimal Ponweera, quoting patriotic verses from the London's Sinhala publication, Sinhala Viththi said he prayed our nation should remain an undivided unitary state for another 2500 years and the abominable bunkers should be turned into tombs for those who practice insensate terror and the country should once again change to what was called a Dharma Dweepa ( an island of just society) .
In the pleasant fragrant air of incense on fire the church was filled with melodious hymns that brought hopes of peace. They sang: "O' Father thou hast promised, this isle shall wait for thee - The joyous isle of ocean, the jewel of the sea - Lo! We this island's watchmen , would give and take no rest - For thus has thou commanded, till our beloved land be blest."

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