In memory of all who have died as the result of recent violence, wherever they may be:
Nothing is more certain than death and nothing is more uncertain than the day and hour of our death. The great folly of worldlings consists in putting the thought of death far from them, and acting as if they were to live forever.
~ Flowers from the Garden of St. Francis
Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of Thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.
~ from In Memoriam A.H.H. by Tennyson
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
~ Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV)
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
~ John 3:17
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Picture by Manfred Heyde – Own work, GFDL
The killing of people enjoying a concert is unimaginable. I just can’t get into the mindset of someone who would do such a thing. What could they possibly hope to achieve? Manchester – such a great city, so vibrant and full of life. Death and destruction have no place here.
Violence begets violence and evil begets evil – the spiral descending. There is only one way out: say no. No more violence. In its place, compassion. No more hate. In its place, loving kindness. No more revenge. In its place, open-armed forgiveness. Hatred has no place here.
…no more shall the sound of weeping be heard…
or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime…
Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox…
Isaiah 65:19,20,24,25 (NRSVA)
My thoughts and prayers, with deepest sympathy, are with the victims and families of the Manchester bombing. My prayers are also for the misguided souls on the path of destruction who think this is a ‘righteous’ thing to do. May they all know the love of the risen Christ, who overcame sin and in its place gives new life. May they know the peace that passes understanding. May those of us on the outside, looking in, find a role in repairing the damage done by this terrible tragedy – all the while knowing that the holes blown in families’ hearts are never going to be filled.
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
I break my Lenten blog silence today after learning of the terror attacks in London yesterday. There are no words to describe the wounds of terrorism. They last far longer than the act itself.
In the 1990s I was at a railway station near to London that was due to be blown up on the day that I was there. Fortunately for me, the bomb did not detonate. Similarly, my father’s offices were blown up in a terror attack that killed two people. The UK has a long, sad history of terrorism, dating all the way back to the 17th century when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Will we make effigies of yesterday’s killer and burn them on 22nd March, as we do with Guy Fawkes every 5th November?
The difference, I suppose, is that (other than the terrorists who were brutally punished) no one died back in 1605. The difference too is that the plotters back then had genuine reason to display protest at parliament. They suffered extreme persecution as Catholics in a Protestant country. What persecution had the terrorist of yesterday suffered? I don’t know anything about him, but I would hazard a guess that the blood is on his hands and no one else’s. What twisted rhetoric made him think this was a ‘right’ thing to do?
My deepest thoughts and most heartfelt prayers are for the families and friends of those who died. May they know the love of the Comforter. May they know the peace that passes understanding. May they reach out for help and find Jesus there with His hands willing and His arms open.
Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who do us wrong. How do we show these extremists the radical nature of God’s love? How do we reach out to them in their darkness and show them the Light of the World? Before we rush to condemn, to avenge the wrongdoing and crush the endless, aching hurt – please remember these words:
God is love… There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…
We love because he first loved us.
extracts from 1 John 4:16-19 (NRSVA)