Thursday, 1 June 2017

God’s Spirit of Peace - and a troubled world

There’s so much I could try to write about this month. In terms of the Church’s Calendar we celebrate the great Feasts of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday - not that it’s easy to get either of them right. Early in the month there’s a General Election - you might well feel you’ve already heard enough about that! And as we go to press we’re all too aware of the atrocity of the suicide bomber’s attack which took so many lives and maimed others at the concert in the Manchester Arena. Words fail us when we try to give expression to our feelings, with children as young as eight amongst the victims and others bereaved of the parents who were waiting to collect them from the concert.

It’s not surprising, given the shock felt at the Manchester bombing, that less attention has been given in the media to an Islamist attack on a bus in Egypt carrying Coptic Christian pilgrims - in the same week with at least 28 killed by gunfire. The Coptic community also suffered grievously just before Easter with bombs detonated on Palm Sunday at their Cathedral in Alexandria and at another church north of Cairo. Over 70 people died that day. It’s a reminder that many Christians pay a real cost in seeking to celebrate their faith. The atrocities we suffer in our own country bring home to us the state of fear in which so many millions live every day around the world.

What is impressive is how so many hold to their faith despite the discrimination, intimidation and outright attacks which they endure because of it. The association of Islamist extremism and violence causes many westerners to doubt the value of any religion. The example of persecuted Christians tells us something else - that their faith is in God and God is love. That’s what we seek to celebrate at Pentecost and in understanding God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It’s God who has loved us into being, God’s Son who shares our humanity and shows us what it truly is, God’s Spirit who moves among us to lead us into all truth. God is love - and entirely love, so there is no room for hatred. It’s hard to take that in - but that is our calling, and one to be lived in faith.

Martin Jackson

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