June 2017

Dear Friends,

In light of recent terrorist attacks, we can be faced with many questions that are seemingly impossible to answer. One of the most basic is perhaps - why? Why do people commit such atrocities to innocent people? And why claim that those things are done in the name of religion? People who do so clearly do not know the same God I do! One who is God of Love and who, as one God in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit is Himself a community of love. At present, there is also much talk about "community" and I have been pondering - what do we mean when we talk about "community"?
The Oxford Dictionary defines "community" as follows:
    The community is all the people who live in a particular area or place.
    A particular community is a group of people who are similar in some way.
    Community is friendship between different people or groups, and a sense of having something in common.

One recent example of "community" was shown at the recent Batley Vintage Day. The marketplace was filled with many stalls, a NAAFI café, vintage vehicles and entertainment on a stage just opposite our church. We were open too, serving refreshments in the vestibule and, for the first time our own Bunker Café in the Brimer Hall, serving war-style food at bargain prices. Then in the guise of his late father, who had been chaplain to the RAF during the Second World War, Rev John Trevenna led a short service with "patriotic hymns". It was a wonderful occasion when "community" came together.

Over the weekend of 16th to 18th June, communities are encouraged to come together as part of The Great Get-Together (you will find event details in the printed newsletter). It has been arranged by the family of Jo Cox MP who was murdered one year ago and who, as the MP for our town, inspired "community". Words from her maiden speech, "We have far more in common with each other than things that divide us" have become a popular quote. So, we are invited to take part in activities planned to bring people of all faiths and none together. Living in a community of different faiths and, given recent events that promote an ideology supposedly based upon Islam but clearly a distortion, then coming together can only be for the good. Learning to understand our neighbours better and offering them the same opportunity to understand us must be the way in which we build "community". On the day after the attack on London Bridge and Borough Market, I read this prayer:
God of us all, we thank you that you place us in community,
to enable and encourage each other, to share and grow together.
Help those of us who are usually silent or silenced, to speak and be heard.
Help those of us who are always heard, to learn to make space for others to have voice.
Help us all to be people who listen with our hearts,
value each other's differences, and work together as we listen to your word and wisdom.
Please broaden our minds and hearts to be in tune with yours,
that we may see as you see, and love as you love.
Help us to recognise that, in enabling and encouraging each other with your kindness,
our communities, and each of us in them, may grow and flourish. Amen.

  (Ruth Yorke, Deacon, Birmingham District)

Following the latest terrorist attack in London, someone asked me what Jesus would say...
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)

Every blessing,