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.

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Not just talking but listening

Peter CheesmanTelephone by Michel Quoist is not a novel, but a short pithy prayer. It ends: “Forgive me, Lord, for we were connected, and now we are cut off.” The phone call was one-sided. There was no communication. We also know that it’s possible for two people to have a conversation – but neither listens to the other. And so misunderstanding arises and often from misunderstanding comes conflict. It can be one factor in a failed relationship. For me, it is typical of ‘debates’ on television or radio. I’m not worried if there are no TV debates for the coming elections. They may reveal skills in debating or memory but they rarely help us to truly understand the issues.

This is not taking sides or an attack on politicians. Not listening is a very human trait.

Many times we don’t understand because we don’t listen. What we don’t understand we often fear. Or worse, we fear the people we don’t understand.

Think for a moment of the people or things you fear. Is it because “now we are cut off” and don’t communicate?

It’s a very corny saying that we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally. The alternative, this Lent, may be to the find the prayer* and pray it with meaning!

* Prayers of Life by Michel Quoist

Revd Peter Cheesman; Civil Protection Advisor to Gloucester Churches Together & Gloucester Diocese