April 2017

Dear Friends

Big Ben and the Houses of ParliamentAs I sit here today I’m still feeling a sense of sadness about last week’s events, sadness for those who have died, those whose grief will overcome them, sad for those who are still critically ill and their families and for all who were involved who must be shaken to the core by this senseless act. I also feel sadness for the perpetrator – what happened to him? Why?

A great big “Why?” fills my brain. The Koran says if you kill one person it’s as if you kill the whole of humanity and if you do a kindness to one person it’s as if you do it to the whole of humanity. How can someone such as this carry out such an outrageous act in the name of what is essentially a peaceful religion?

The fact is, this man wasn’t acting in the name of God, not the God we know and our ordinary sensitive brothers and sisters in Islam worship. This man was using religion to satisfy a zealous ideology that most would not recognise. As far as these ideologies’ followers are concerned, if you do not share their ideals you are the enemy and a fair target. It is such a strong way of thinking that people are willing to die for it.

So called Islamic State kills indiscriminately and we sometimes forget that most of its victims are Muslims, they are failing in Syria and so try to intimidate others that they see as enemies. What they haven’t realised is that it won’t work. We have seen this all before and will not be afraid.

The words ‘Do not be afraid’ appear 365 times in the Bible, once for each day of the year. We will not be bowed, we will not panic, we will get on with our lives and pray for and support those who have been affected. Our emergency services are exemplary. Police, paramedics, fire officers, doctors, nurses and security services swung into action efficiently and confidently. This attack on the centre of our government was senseless. What has been gained long term? Short term there was chaos and they got the publicity they craved but long term it will back fire because the impact on everyday life for those not immediately affected will return to normal – in fact, it has already a couple of days later, and our security will be increased. They will come to realise that in adversity the British people pull together and get on with it. The war taught us that, the IRA bombings taught us that, the devastation of 7/7/05 taught us that. ‘Keep calm and carry on’ – words often found on mugs and posters. Surely this is the British motto.

We are asked to continue praying, and Westminster Central Hall at the heart of the incident have offered us a prayer:

Loving Creator God,
In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, grant your peace.
To those injured and frightened by events in Westminster, grant your healing.
To the police, those who work in Parliament and members of the public, grant your protection.
May those who are motivated by hate be transformed by love.
May those who care for a broken world by strengthened by love.
May we be guided by your Spirit as we try to find words of comfort and be guided in our actions by the example of your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.

As we continue our journey through Lent and into Easter, we remember the One who was willing to die for his ideology which was centred on God, His actions were always pointing the way to a God of love and forgiveness, a God who draws people to himself and establishes community. Ultimately a God of love. The man who defeated death and gives us hope calls us to have faith in Him, not in an ideology that seeks to destroy its perceived enemies and cause chaos and destruction.

Shalom my friends,

God Bless


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