As I write this, I’ve just been watching Hospital, the
documentary from St. Mary’s hospital in Paddington. It
was the episode in which the cameras were already recording when
they heard the news of the Westminster terrorist attack.
Before that, I was listening to a radio programme about the ‘Day of Rage’
following the terrible fire in the Grenfell Tower block of flats.
The previous day I was reading the reports of the attack outside the
Finsbury Park mosque.
How do we respond to such a sequence of awful events?
My first reaction mingles sadness, grief and anger, but I feel compelled to
offer some words of wisdom, some deep theological insight.
In a sense, the Christian Gospel offers some good answers to these deep
troubles. It speaks of Jesus, God in human form, come amongst the worst
of the world’s violence and being on the receiving end of it. It speaks of
Jesus’ words of peace, and his demand that we turn the other cheek: the
message that the Christian response to Westminster, Manchester and
Borough Market is not to attack the Finsbury Park mosque, but to love our
Muslim neighbours all the more. The image of Jesus overturning the money
changers’ tables in righteous anger at the way the political establishment
was complicit in the neglect of the poorest.
Yet, that doesn’t seem enough. We then need to turn back to the Psalms
and discover that this has always been true: in anger and despair we have a
right to shout at God and complain that we have prayed “Thy Kingdom
Come” so many times, and yet it is still not here… …except, of course there are glimpses of the Kingdom already there. As we
rush to the rescue we find Jesus there ahead of us. We see the images of
Notting Hill Methodist Church (just outside the Grenfell Tower cordon)
being a place where people are fed and sheltered.
At times like these we need revert to childlike faith and I offer a childlike
song: “Our God is a great big God, and he holds us in his hands.” Amen?