Not so long ago I preached a sermon about events and how Harold McMillan who was one time the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was asked what most affected politics? Answered: “Events dear boy, events” or words to that effect. Events don’t only affect politics but the whole of life, every aspect of daily life can be affected by unforeseen events.
When a fist punches through life’s canvas the consequences can be devastating. Monday night of this past week when I write was an event that can be described as a fist punching through the canvas of life with devastating results. Lives ended, futures destroyed, families and friends mourning when they shouldn’t be and all because of the evil that is terrorism.
Any type of terrorism is evil and has no place in the context of religion. Such terrorism seeks to divide and to turn neighbour against neighbour. Its goal is to stoke hatred and bitterness amongst people. It seeks to create an atmosphere of suspicion in our communities.
In the United Kingdom and here in Scotland we tend to rub along nicely together; black, yellow, white whatever colour our skin, we have had sectarian trouble here and there. However, speaking generally we each of us respect the other’s right to practice their faith whatever it is without hindrance.
Democracy is a gift from God, and it gives us the freedom to express ourselves in reasonable ways without imposing our views or belief systems on others. We cherish our freedom but we must guard against those who would strive to take it from us. We guard against it by shunning prejudice, by shunning racism, by shunning anything that inspires or nurtures hatred towards others of a different ilk or social or religious background.
I was impressed by one of the banners I saw in Albert Square in Manchester on the news when they were reporting on the vigil there it said something like ‘Love not hate’. Many people on the internet posted pictures expressing oneness with Manchester. Amongst the crowd gathered there you could see people of many different backgrounds coming together to express the point that we are not giving into intimidation or fear that causes division.
As I write it will soon be Pentecost, the birthday of the Church proper. The day when a motley crew of the first Christians gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem awaiting the blessing of the Holy Spirit to descend upon them, their confirmation I suppose. When the Spirit came upon them, the power of his presence transformed that motley crew of believers into an inspired energetic group keen to spread the message about Jesus. They spoke in many different languages, praising God in various tongues. In this we see that God is interested in the whole world, people from all nations, not an elite group of special people but everyone, the whole world.
Those people were empowered by God not to conquer by force or intimidation but by caring and sharing. The world is not made better by hate, nor by force, nor by intimidation, these are the weapons of evil. The world is made better by the type of love that Jesus showed forth. Love that heals wounds, that binds up the broken hearted, that feeds the hungry, gives sustenance and protection to the vulnerable.
We hold in our hearts those young folk and children taken from their families in Manchester and think of the words of Jesus: "Suffer the little children to come unto me for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven" and the adults too, every life is precious to God. Remember Jesus said, "If my Heavenly Father knows even when a sparrow falls to the ground…how much more does he care for you."
May we be endowed with the power of God’s love and offer comfort and succour to all and sundry helping to make the world a better and brighter place.
Have a safe, blissful and happy summer.