23rd March 2016

fr_simon

Dear Friends

Once again we see death and suffering as a result of terrorist activity. Our hearts go our to those who mourn to those who are still in hospital and to all those affected by this atrocity. Let us also pray for King Philippe, his Government and the security services.
There is always a cry on these occasions “Where is God in all of this?” The psalm set for morning prayer today echoes our cry.

“Hear my prayer, O Lord
Let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
on the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me
answer me speedily on the day when I call”  
Ps 102 v 1& 2

So where is God, has he let us down again…?
The problem and the joy of God is that there is no magic escape. As Harry Williams says in his book True Wilderness

“What God will enable is to do is to face these unpleasant, ugly, disturbing, frightening and sometimes agonizing facts or feelings. To face them without dodging or pretending to ourselves that things are different”.

The cry of Jesus on the cross is real. “My God, my God why have you forsaken me”. The victory consists in Jesus facing and mastering his immediate future and by confronting all that the authorities could throw at him. If we believe that what we have in the West is ultimately good and life enhancing, warts and all, then  it is worth protecting. I for one am not interested in benign dictatorships, people do not flourish when they are corralled, however politely.

So like Jesus we must have the courage to face the future what ever that holds with the confidence to confront, challenge and ultimately defeat the false and misguided theologies which cause so much pain and death. God is good, God is great, he created this world and he loves ALL of it.

“But you, O Lord, are enthroned for ever;
your name endures to all generations.”
Ps 10-2 V 12

Simon


Dear Friends,

The grim news from Brussels yesterday was horrendous. Over thirty lives lost and countless hundreds and thousands changed forever. It takes about three hours to travel to Brussels on Eurostar; about the same as to Newcastle or other northern stations in this country. When acts of terror happen relatively speaking on our doorsteps they speak that much louder to us; it is entirely possible that one of us could have been one of the victims. We had Brussels yesterday, Paris last November and who knows where next? We live in dangerous and troubled times.

And let’s not forget the equally tragic story of five members of the same family who drowned on Sunday in Donegal when their car slid off a pier and plunged into the sea. A brave man swan out and saved a young baby but the rest of the family perished. An unimaginable tragedy.

This Holy Week is a time for confronting reality. For realising that although there is plenty of blackness and pain and sorrow and tragedy in our lives that the stark story of the empty tomb gives us all the assurance that hope and a better way of life lie around the corner; lie over the horizon. Death and pain and darkness do not and will not have the last word. I leave you with an Easter poem called Easter Dawn from the very wonderful Malcolm Guite, himself a priest. He reminds us all that tears can dry and that night will turn to day:

“He blesses every love which weeps and grieves
And now he blesses hers who stood and wept
And would not be consoled, or leave her love’s
Last touching place, but watched as low light crept
Up from the east. A sound behind her stirs
A scatter of bright birdsong through the air.
She turns, but cannot focus through her tears,
Or recognise the Gardener standing there.
She hardly hears his gentle question ‘Why,
Why are you weeping?’, or sees the play of light
That brightens as she chokes out her reply
‘They took my love away, my day is night’
And then she hears her name, she hears Love say
The Word that turns her night, and ours, to day”

With every blessing,

Fr Andrew