The locals here call Wrenthorpe a village, although it has long since been but a suburb of Wakefield! It shows the sense of community that still exists and a pride in where we live. That is great – until last Friday when our little field of grass, with a few swings on it, the meeting place for families and dog walkers, and those passing to go to the post office – was suddenly invaded by travellers! I say “invaded” because that’s how it seemed to the residents. The mood at the bus stop suddenly changed, and the conversation on the bus, and any liberal sentiments were thrown into the litter bin. We hadn’t lost a sheep – we’d lost the blooming pasture!
Traditionally the holiday season is rather devoid of ‘proper’ news, and is therefore often called the silly season because of the silly news that gets broadcast. This year has been different for both good and bad reasons. The good reason was the start of the Olympics, since when it seems our diet is sport and weather!
And the bad — prior to the start of the Olympics we heard about a seemingly endless stream of atrocities; in Afghanistan, Belgium, France, Iraq, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, Syria … and the list goes on! Such a litany of evil and destruction leaves me speechless. Resorting to the words of Robert Burns: “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.” Robert was spot on with the first word in that in the vast majority of cases it is men who commit these atrocities. Unfortunately it is not just men who suffer, it is women and children. These events make me feel both sad and impotent … what can we do? Firstly, we can support the outrageously generous people who work for organisations such as Christian Aid and Médecins Sans Frontières. Secondly we can pray.
On a more positive note; it was a great pleasure to meet with the young people, and their leaders, from Taiwan who came to Church House in early August, as part of their visit to the UK. At a time where our differences seem to drive hatred and violence it is heart-warming to meet fellow Christians from 6,000 miles away so that we can appreciate both our differences and our similarities. I was particularly impressed by the organisation put into the visit by the URC Youth and our CYDOs enabling our Taiwanese friends to get a good understanding of both the UK and the URC. If only that level of understanding and grace could exist between all nations.
Pray well, long and deep.
After Assembly Alan headed up to Scotland, where, as John Proctor jested, he hoped they’d have a reserved parking space for Alan’s bike! I picked up the theme of big rivers from the communion sermon, going from the Mersey to the Tyne, and again noting John’s ribbing not to mention the Shields Ferry (for those not at Assembly – a mere mention of the Mersey Ferry in my sermon and only an hour later, the real thing crashed for the first time ever!) Whereas Alan and I were hopefully doing the same thing at Assembly – the following Saturday we were doing the opposite – Alan involved in the induction and welcome of the new moderator in Scotland, the Revd David Pickering, whilst I was in Northern Synod preaching at the leaving service for its Moderator, the Revd Lis Mullen.