My efforts to maintain my meat abstinence’s during Lent has proved to be quite successful and helped me think more deeply about what we are doing to our planet earth through our meat-eating habits when there are so many alternatives available. I now find that my action has changed my habit and I am taking more care to seek out and enjoy other foods. As I sit down to write this blog I have just enjoyed scrambled eggs followed by apple crumble, so habits can be changed and as we increasingly think about how we are messing up our planet this can only be a good thing, thank you JPIT for your encouragement.
April saw my granddaughter get married, it was a glorious occasion with family and friends, young and older, all coming together in harmony. It was also a joyous time for us all and reminds us that this is what life should be all about as we remember what Jesus said about loving one another. As you may know I am involved in Interfaith work and my family is an Interfaith family. To me and my wife this is a real blessing as our Christian and Muslim family members join to share life’s joys, concerns and dreams which I believe is what God wants us all to do. It is of course important whilst doing this that we live out our faith in all we do with integrity and honesty sharing all that life brings us. As you may know Nigel and myself as General Assembly Moderators are encouraging everyone to listen carefully to each other and then to put our faith into action. This of course requires us to be strong in our faith and open to others as Jesus was.
During the week before Easter I was helping with a children’s Easter holiday club that is open to all children from whatever background and from whatever faith. It was a bible-based holiday club exploring the Easter story. We had 34 children ages 5 – 11 each day, approximately half were Muslim and the other half Christian. This was not by design but just the natural response from the neighbourhood. The experience of the children working, listening, singing, eating and being together was I believe a real Easter message. Children and their parents valued the experience of being together working through the Easter story. There was no tension on display, rather enjoyment as the children and their parents celebrated what they had been doing and learning during the week. This, I feel, was another example of what Jesus wants us to do as his people.
During Holy week I took part in a Maundy Thursday service, attended a Good Friday one and led Easter Sunday worship, with Communion, at my own church. We had experienced something of the grief and the elation that is Easter time. Whilst this great experience was going on others across the world were planning bombings to attack churches and other places in Sri Lanka. What a contrast, how can human beings turn joy into sorrow and despair through such evil acts. Because of my involvement with Interfaith I was deeply involved in making public statements, on behalf of all 6 major world faiths, expressing all those Faiths outright condemnation of such heinous crime. I also had the opportunity to express this condemnation, with others, in Blackburn Cathedral alongside the Leader of the Council, who is a Muslim and the Dean of the Cathedral supported by the local Member of Parliament and the Town’s Major. Our vigil and condemnations were recorded by the local radio and subsequently broadcast widely.
In the afternoon of the same day I had the privilege of being invited to meet with pupils of a local secondary school to mark St Georges Day. This event was to recall how St George, a Christian, had led a faithful and resolute life refusing to relinquish his faith, in the face of overwhelming hostility, which ultimately cost him his life. The school embraces the example set by St George by focusing on the kindness and help he showed to others. It was good to be able to talk about these values to young people from both Christian and Muslim backgrounds.
The following day I took part in a local Eco Church event which brought together many URC church representatives from across the region to hear about the work of A Roch and to tell about projects being done by churches to protect and conserve our precious eco systems. I was able to show support for the work being done that is lead and encouraged by the skills and efforts of a CRCW.
This work helps young and older people to care for the local environment aiming to changing Hearts and Minds and has the potential to build up ecumenical and interfaith working in the town.
In the evening of the same day Margaret, my wife, and I were invited to be guests at an International Food Party being held in Blackburn Cathedral Crypt for Refugees and Asylum Seekers. There was food from many different parts of the world being served, having been prepared, in love, by members of the local Refugee and Asylum Seeker community, a combination of many cultures and different faiths. Here is another fine example of people getting on together enjoying life together, young and old and the children excitedly taking part in fun enjoying games and everyone sharing plenty of food, which perhaps at other times is not so plentiful.
April for me, as General Assembly Moderator and a family man, I feel, has been a month that has shown us the love of God so freely given to us all by Jesus.
Wishing everyone Love and blessings to be lived out in all we do and say.