Saturday, 26 July 2014

In Summer...

Thought I'd post my lead article for the August/September edition of the Parish magazine - feel free to let me know what you think!


The Curate Writes...

Finally the summer's here – the air is warm, the kids are off school (and running around, yelling!), the sky is blue, and in a few days time will be full of aircraft as the Sunderland Air Show gets off the ground. This is all great, a cause for rejoicing. Yet as I sit to write this, my Twitter feed keeps distracting me. The BBC News website keeps grabbing my attention:
This mark stands for Nazarene. In last few days ISIS
in Mosul put this mark on the homes of the
Christians to mark them out for death.
* The conflict in Gaza, where the air is warm, the kids are off school (and running around, yelling), the sky is blue and also contains aircraft, rockets and bullets. More than 640 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have been killed in the past 15 days of fighting.

* Mosul, Iraq, where tens of thousands of our brothers & sisters in Christ have fled after being offered an unattractive choice by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): convert, pay an unaffordable religious tax, or be put to the sword.

* Flight MH17, allegedly shot down by pro-Russian rebels, killing 283 passengers of which 80 were children.

* The ongoing situations in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, North Korea.

* The latest statistics showing that worldwide a child is trafficked every 30 seconds: that's about 1.2 million children or the population of Birmingham.

The list could go on, does go on, and it's overwhelming. Amongst all the stuff going on in our own individual lives, our own daily battles, stresses and concerns it all seems too much to take in. It leaves us, as Christians, with really hard questions. What can I do about this? Where is God in all of it?

Well, you'd expect me to say we should pray – and we should. But with such huge overpowering issues our own personal prayers can seem so little, & God can seem so far removed that we don't know where to start. So I find myself turning to St. Paul's letter to the Romans, and the second half of chapter 8, beginning at verse 18. For all of us, life can be unimaginably hard. For many in our list above, hell on earth. But through the life, death & resurrection of Jesus there is hope. We cannot see it, but we long for it. We cannot find the words to ask for it, but the Spirit intercedes for us. The darkness that enfolds us seems impenetrable, the gulf between us & God far too wide, yet there is nothing in, of, above or below this world that can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

A wise man, when asked how to eat an elephant, replied “one bite at a time.” So we need to start small: praying the Spirit will help us to pray, meditating on the passage from Romans (and others that the Lord places on our hearts), giving what we can to charities who directly help those caught up in these situations, like Christian Aid working in Gaza, or Tearfund's “No Child Taken” campaign. And those questions that keep running around our heads? Maybe consider joining the Alpha course that will start in October, where we'll explore together our Christian faith & get to know the Lord, and each other, that bit better.

Keep praying. Keep hoping. Give thanks for what we have, and rejoice in the Lord always!
For more on the situation in Iraq, including things we can be doing to help, visit the dedicated #WeAreN page on the Parish website - 

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