We are delighted to receive occasional updates from our dear friend Fr Neville who spends our winters in Australia, returning to Lewes to enjoy our summer.
The world read with horror the events of June 2017 in London when three terrorists mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge, and then, after crashing their van, fled into the Borough Markets randomly attacking people with long knives. Eight people were killed by their actions.
Borough Markets comprise a cramped, tangled maze of lanes and open spaces beneath the rail and road approaches to London Bridge. Traders and buskers vie for attention as tourists and office workers mill around, buying food and souvenirs from the huge variety of stalls, and just soaking up the atmosphere.
Southwark Cathedral is immediately adjacent to the Markets and is a haven of peace in that massively redeveloped wider area. Three weeks after the attack, the Cathedral organised a service of healing and reconciliation for all the people affected by the attack. The BBC decided to combine the service with the recording of an episode of it’s popular program, ‘Hymns of Praise’.
My wife, Jane, and I were fortunate enough to be invited to join the congregation for the recording of the service. The Cathedral was packed! Extra seats were found and the place was overflowing with people of every faith, colour and walk of life. There were the families of those killed and injured, the rescue services, the representatives of the Muslim community, the volunteer counsellors in their fluro jackets, the Salvos, the health workers who had treated the injured, and so many more. Throughout it all, there was a sense of community and that good can be brought out of evil and adversity.
The final televised service included clips from different groups, which all expressed their faith in different ways. Whether it was in the ‘op-shop’ in a local church or the meals served to the homeless, the message was the same; this is God in action through the actions of those who serve Him.
Lent is a time of ‘doing’ wherein we search for ways to better serve. Adversity is always challenging to our faith. As committed Christians, we have learnt to search for the good that can be brought out of adversity, but that is not the case for so many in our community. Adversity is always around us. Our role is to demonstrate in real-world actions what God’s love means.
Whether it be the simple act of checking on someone we think might be experiencing a problem, volunteering in our local op-shop, or becoming active in our community when we would prefer to keep quiet, it is this that brings us closer to God and the Easter mystery.