Do not be afraid

Julie RidgwayDo not be afraid for I have redeemed you I have called you by your name you are mine – this is a line from one of my favourite hymns.

We can all think of something that makes us fearful or afraid – some of those things maybe real whereas others maybe our imagination going into overdrive, either way our experience is not a pleasant one .  I can recall from my youth pleading with my parents to be allowed to see the film jaws only to then suffer recurring nightmares during a family holiday at the seaside!  We may try different ways of rationalising our fears and there are people who profess to be able to reduce or even get rid of some of our fears for us.

Hardly a day seems to go by when we don’t hear news reports of human beings inflicting dreadful harm on others often for reasons we just cannot comprehend.  We are regularly told that certain countries are under serious threat of an attack and we should all be vigilant.  Many public places in this country and other parts of Europe now see armed police regularly on patrol, protecting us from harm.

The dreadful events earlier this week in Brussels have brought home yet again what harm our fellow brothers and sisters can inflict on one another.  In the news reports we saw reporters asking people on the streets for their comments on the events or what they saw if they were nearby at the time.  Understandably some commented how afraid they are now feeling and how as part of their daily routine they would be trying to avoid public transport and places where lots of people might be gathered.

As the hours past, the images broadcast then turned to scenes of calm, pavements nearby the airport and metro centre became adorned by flowers, messages of condolence all lit by many candles.  Crowds of people did gather, holding each other, offering prayers and placing more flowers, candles and messages on the streets.  Whilst many of those messages expressed feelings of sorrow and loss, others expressed their determination to carry on with their normal day to day lives and not to allow fear of more attacks to consume them.


There’s no place like home

Arthur Champion July 2010It’s Cheltenham Race Week and many will appreciate the arrival of milder weather.

Throughout the changing seasons, planet Earth continues to go hurtling around the Sun at a speed of 66,000 miles an hour.  It’s easy to forget that we live on a tiny, colourful globe moving rapidly though the vast emptiness of space but the latest news reports coming out of NASA should give us pause for thought.

It turns out that January 2016 was the most abnormally hot month in history whilst on Wednesday 2 March the northern hemisphere even slipped above the milestone “two degrees Celsius average” for the first time in recorded history.  Many scientists believe that if temperatures go any higher than “two degrees Celsius average” the global temperature rise will become “dangerous”.  At this point various nightmare scenarios spring to mind like in disaster films such as “The Day After Tomorrow”.

I say “many scientists” because a significant minority dispute NASA’s research methods, interpretation of data and conclusions.  These arguments go beyond the understanding of most people and can produce feelings of hopelessness: “It’s all too big and complicated and anyway what can I do about it?” On the other hand, this planet is all we’ve got to call home and even if the scientists have got their numbers wrong we still need to do better at looking after it.

If you would like to find out more, then please come along to one of our regular meetings:

The Revd Arthur Champion, Diocesan Environmental Advisor

If the tables were turned…

Archbishop Justin has said it is outrageous to describe people who are worried about the impact of migration as racist.

He told Parliament’s The House magazine there was “genuine fear” of the impact on housing, jobs and the NHS.

The exact number of refugees in the world is not known, but the conflict in Syria has forced about 11 million people to flee their homes and country. So while I agree that we may fear the impact this has on our country, that fear is nothing compared to the people, who no fault of their own, find themselves with nothing and often with nowhere to turn for help.

It’s easy to forget when it’s not right on your doorstep, that these are normal people, like you and me. Most will have had jobs; bank managers, nurses, cleaners, sales agents, secretaries. Normal people earning salaries and living their life with the family they love. We are so incredibly lucky that we live in a country where we feel safe, but if we didn’t and we suddenly lost our homes and everything we owned, how would you feel knowing that other places, other people didn’t want to help? Everybody can make a difference to these people’s lives; it’s often just the small things we do that can make a difference. Educate yourself on how you can help, visit the GARAS website

By Lucy Taylor, Head of Communications, Diocese of Gloucester.

‘It is right to give thanks and praise’

Julie FayAfter a stunningly good BBC production of ‘War and Peace’, I am revisiting the book (yes, really!) The edition I have was given to me as a teenager in 1976; at the time, another great BBC production – ‘Anna Karenina’ – had drawn me to Tolstoy’s work and his brilliance at exploring human relationships. I do not recall why, but leafing through the now yellowed pages, I discovered that, all those years ago, I had underlined the following:

‘Even in the best, most friendly and simple relations of life, praise and commendation are as indispensable as the oil which greases the wheels of a machine to keep them running smoothly’

Praising God is an essential part of our worship and of our relationship with our Creator. We say It is right to give thanks and praise’, but how often do we think about the value of thanking and praising other people? Whether it is a parishioner making the tea or welcoming us with a smile as we walk in to Church, Church Wardens and PCC members, the pastoral ministry of those taking time to go to schools, nursing homes and workplaces, members of local ministry teams who give their time freely in service; the coffee shop barista, the bus driver, those who work in the background – and many more examples we can think of – we all need to hear from time to time, words of encouragement and acknowledgement.

These words are not just platitudes – they are an essential part of our personal spiritual growth as, when they come, it is uncannily just at the right moment to inspire us and keep us moving forward, reassuring us that we are valued. But also, these words can turn war into peace, by diffusing resentment among individuals and transforming it into mutual love and respect.

When we go on holiday, ‘thank you’ is often one of only a few words out of the phrasebook we need for our journey that we learn and which sticks with us. If the peoples of the Earth were to learn God’s universal language for ‘thank you’, how much closer the Kingdom would be?

Thank You/ Diolch/ Tapadh leat/ Go raibh maith agat/ Merci/ Gracias/ Grazie/ Danke/ Obrigada/ Efharisto/ Eziekuje/ Spasibo/ Mersi/ Tesekkür ederim/ Shukran/ Dêkuji/ Tak / Takk/ Tack/ Tiitos/ Toda/ Arigato/ Do jeh/ Xie xie/ Sukria/ Ābhāra/ Terima kasih/ Tamsa hamnida/ Salamat po/ Istutiy/ Dankie/Asante