We are a friendly Christian church, based in the small town of Neston, Wirral, Cheshire, midway between Liverpool and Chester.
I wonder if you ever feel that there’s an invisible screen between you and the world,
behind which you stand shaking your head in disbelief at the things unfolding on the other side.
The recent shocking events in New Zealand have served to remind us once again of the devastating consequences of intolerance and hatred, and yet the way the country has come together to show support and love afterwards has also shown us how much we can achieve if we live out the Christian values of love and compassion. Still, we shake our heads in disbelief that it happened at all.
That was a human-made disaster, and another disaster is unfolding as I write, in Mozambique and Zimbabe, this time a disaster of nature, as Cyclone Idai has wrought havoc over miles and miles of land, leaving hundreds dead and injured, and survivors without food, or clean water. We shake our heads in disbelief at the scale of the destruction.
Those two recent incidents contrast with each other – the first caused by a man filled with hate, the second caused by circumstances beyond anyone’s control, unless of course it turns out that climate change is behind it, in which case we all need even more to rethink our lifestyles.
All human beings are joined together, stretching right across the world, and our actions, both good and bad, have consequences. From global events such as those I’ve described, to the current political situation with the EU, to those we encounter day by day, threads link us all to each other, breaking through that invisible barrier, uniting us as one human race.
And yet everywhere there are threats to the chances of these links becoming ever more strong and beautiful, and enriching our lives – because the devil continues to sow seeds of hatred and intolerance. Life can be hard enough because of things that can’t be helped, without us adding to the difficulties by succumbing to our baser instincts. Just a small example - at the recent Christian Resources Exhibition in Manchester, where I was helping on the JPIT (Joint Public Issues Team) stall, when a man engaged us in a conversation filled with disgust at the URC’s policy (which he hadn’t taken the trouble to fully understand) on same sex marriage. Tolerance? No chance!
When we look on all of creation with compassion and a sense of community, when we appreciate and revel in the diversity of God-given life, then we will come near to the place Jesus wants us to be - loving one another, as he has loved us. In the meantime, we need courage and grace to change the world, little by little, starting with ourselves, and radiating out to all those we encounter as we find our way through this wonderful world that God has given us.
Yours in the service of our Lord, Hilary