The last few weeks have been turbulent times indeed. We have seen two terrorist attacks, in Manchester and London; a general election that confounded all expectations; and just this last week, the dreadful fire which destroyed the Grenfell Tower flats. As I write, we have a hung parliament and Theresa May trying to form a minority government with the DUP; who knows what the situation will be by the time you read this.
Amidst all the upheaval, though, there has been a consistent and heartwarming expression of goodness and goodwill from so many people. Each of the disasters has met with an outpouring of help and concern, and a determination for the community to stand together. The election campaign, especially towards the end, was notable for the numbers of people calling for an end to the austerity that has tended to penalise the most vulnerable. It is as if the adversity of the times has brought out the best in people.
This is not to be romantic about what has happened. Last Friday I was at a concert given by the Metropolitan Police Choir. After a delightful mix of popular and sacred music, there was a solemn moment. The choir sang ‘Nearer, my God, to Thee’, and dedicated it to the victims of the three recent terror attacks. Some of the people singing would have been on duty at Westminster and London Bridges; they would have known PC Keith Palmer who was killed. The audience, mostly of family and friends, wept.
How are we, as people of faith, to respond to all this uncertainty? One way is to keep reaching out to people of other faiths, standing together in practical action and supporting one another in prayer. Another way is through our own giving where we can. But the main thing is to remember that, whatever happens, God is there with us, bearing our sorrows and hearing our cries. In Psalm 4 we read: ‘There are many who say, “If only we might see the good times! Let the light of your face shine on us, Lord.” But you have put into my heart a greater happiness than others had from grain and wine in plenty.’
I pray for our new government and all the challenges they will face; I pray that you and those you love will keep safe. I pray for justice and peace. If you are going on holiday over the summer, may you find rest and refreshment. And may we know God’s peace in our hearts.