I watch the news each night and in recent times, especially these last few days, watch the terrible plight of so many other people in different parts of the world. Some are natural disasters like the massive flooding in Texas, the earthquake in Mexico City, and the hurricanes, not just one but two, wrecking the Caribbean Islands. All these have caused unimaginable destruction and, particularly in the case of the earthquake, serious loss of life. If you survive these catastrophes, how do you recover afterwards when virtually everything you own has been destroyed?
But I would think it cannot be as bad suffering devastating hurricane damage as the serious suffering we are told about being inflicted on people by other people. Shockingly, we have become almost used to Syrian refugees trying to flee from unspeakable violence, starvation, and disease. They have lost their homes, schools and even their families during the six years of conflict, to the point where they are so desperate they are willing to risk putting their families in dangerously unsafe boats to escape. How desperate must you be to do that?
But now we have to witness Buddhists telling Rohingya Muslims to leave Myanmar (Burma) or they will all be killed. Nearly half of the one million Rohingya have so far managed to escape from the Rakine state into neighbouring Bangladesh, amid a campaign of violent persecution that United Nations has called a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’. This is a peak to the religious discrimination that has been exercised in Burma over the last 50 years, against non-Buddhists, mainly Christians and Muslims.
So how lucky are we to be living in the UK? Whilst we do moan about wet weather, we rarely suffer extremes and certainly nothing like hurricanes or earthquakes. Without belittling the horrors of the Manchester Arena and London Bridge terror attacks, we are not facing a constant threat of death through war or starvation like so many people in the world. We do not need to consider risking all to try and find sanctuary and hopefully a better life. And we take it for granted that we can follow any religion and attend any church we choose without fear of persecution.
As Christians I know we would all want to help those caught up in these tragic events, through no fault of their own, except to be born in the wrong place. All we can do is donate money and clothing, we do pray for them, we can tell politicians to take some action (although exactly what they can do is limited) and we can make all refugees feel welcome. None of these things will make as much difference as we’d like, but it all reminds me to be grateful each day for so many things I take for granted.
Last time I wrote about the Pastoral Report. Since then the Elders have attended a second meeting about Missional Partnerships, so some changes will come, but how much this will affect Sunday worship, if at all, remains to be seen. Thank you to those who commented on my thoughts about changes to our worship patterns. As I mentioned, we have no plans to introduce any changes that would put off our regular congregation – they were just my thoughts!
With best wishes,