Solidarity in the face of malevolence

mattThis week has been so sad with the terrible, unnecessary loss of lives, and great pain brought about in Paris by those who wish to impose their will upon others through intimidation and violence.  A friend of mine, a Parisian now living in Somerset, summed it up in a simple text when I asked how her and her family were – “I’m heart sick”.

 But this tragedy has also shown the goodness, and caring side of this world, with many more people from around the globe rallying in their support for the people of Paris than those few who inflicted it.  In a world that so often seems full of hatred, it’s easy to miss the acts of kindness that happen every day. 

There is little more that can be said which hasn’t already been written by others, and I fear that this will not be the end of the terrorism that has plagued the world during the beginning of this century.  But what we can do is show solidarity for each other, treating our neighbours, friends, work colleagues and even strangers in the street with the respect and kindness that we would want shown to ourselves.  Showing those who want to bully and threaten us, either through physical or subversive means that love is ultimately stronger than hate.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.  It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:1-7,13

Matthew Brunt, Diocesan Management Accountant




Is top sport becoming suicidal?

Richard MitchellFIFA is caught in a huge soccer scandal with massive financial corruption being investigated. Every week there are yet more, tedious Premiership controversies about conduct on and off the football field.

International athletics has to prove itself free from serious allegations of doping, undermining previous and current competitions, including the Olympics.

The England rugby union team is going through a torrid time of self-examination, reflecting the confusion about styles of leadership in sport.

Legal procedures are continuing into evidence of match-fixing in world cricket.

It seems that astronomical sums of money in top sport, management structures that don’t work in providing accountability and clear direction, and a success at all costs culture is taking top level sport off the rails.

Who can drive through a reform and renewal culture before trust is fatally undermined?

Thank God love of money and worldy success aren’t Christian values or virtues. The Church has been guilty of these things and may still need to repent, but, the figure of Jesus no-where reflects the modern desire of our need for financial gain and public acclaim that appears to be driving top sport. In that sense, ‘the boy done good’.

Can the values of trust, loyalty, enjoyment and enrichment to community, avoid complete relegation in international sport in the future?

Many good spectators know that some of the best sporting events are not the ones featuring the best players or the ones where your team wins.

The Revd Canon Richard Mitchell, Vicar of Shurdington, Badgeworth and Witcombe with Bentham.

Ready to Respond

Peter CheesmanThis week, as we remember a failed bomb attack on Parliament in 1605, we still see the effects of terrorism around the world. British tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh wonder when they can get back, while in St Petersburg families mourn 224 relatives and friends from a Metrojet aircraft. And it will be said: “We must make sure this never happens again.”

In reality, however much we try, there will always be tragedies on this scale, whether they are caused by human neglect or deliberate, wilful acts, as well as those resulting from natural disasters, from pandemic disease, from adverse weather, and from many other things.

While these are sadly everyday occurrences  in some parts of the world, they are thankfully rare here. But Christians and people of many faiths, pray, give and work to help tackle these problems worldwide.

In Gloucestershire, Faith Communities work in union with others. Gloucestershire Churches Together works with the Gloucestershire Local Resilience Forum to provide support. It says:

Many agencies play a part in dealing with a disaster and its aftermath, and the effectiveness of the total response will partially depend on how well the emergency services, local authorities and central government have prepared and exercised their arrangements and emergency procedures. It goes deeper than this though. The people who are normally affected most are the residents, communities and businesses. To have a resilient Gloucestershire, we all need to work together to help each other prepare for the unexpected.”

This is not just ‘official-speak’. Individuals already play a real part through the Accredited Volunteer Scheme, Community Emergency Response Teams and many voluntary bodies, and could do more. They are “Ready to Respond” to anything that happens.

To find out more, you can visit Gloucestershire Prepared or Gloucestershire Churches Together’s Emergency Planning

 The Revd Peter Cheesman, Civil Protection Advisor, Gloucestershire Churches Together & Gloucester Diocese.