Monday, 23 October 2017

Church always offers firm foundations for those in need

NOT many who got up and went to work in central London on Wednesday, March 22 will have thought to themselves “I wonder if this will be my last day?”

Not many will have thought “Will this be the day when evil will run amok on Westminster Bridge, catching up innocent bystanders in a seemingly haphazard way?”

Even police officers, who regularly have to deal with acts of violence, do normally, I imagine, think they’ll be returning home as normal in the evening, as they did the day before and will do the day after.

It is inconceivable to most of us who go through daily life that something as shocking as last week’s terror attack might impact us personally and change our lives forever.

Yet this is the reality for anyone who has suddenly lost a loved one, or seen something terrifying that stays with them for a long time, and it is a daily reality for many of our brothers and sisters who live in other countries torn apart by war and famine.

It’s when times are tough that we often find out what we’re building our lives, or our society, upon.

Jesus told a story about two builders who built houses on different foundations. To the naked eye, both houses looked good — well built, smart and reliable.

In fact, one was built on rock and the other on sand, so when the rains came, the house on the rock stood firm whereas the house on the sand, as the old Sunday school song used to say, “fell flat”.

Jesus finished that story by saying that anyone who hears his words and puts them into practice is like the builder whose house stood firm.

His command to love God and love your neighbour, even when my neighbour could be someone I don’t trust, is a high calling but one which we have to take seriously when so many things in the world seem to indicate we must build walls to keep out our neighbours.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a daily reality for many who have been caught up in violence, whether on a large scale, such as for those who have done tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, or simply if you’ve been in an accident or seen violence up close, and can’t seem to recover.

We underestimate how fragile we can be after life events have taken their toll.

One of the most powerful things the Church can do is open its doors at times of national stress and emergency.

A peaceful, “holy” space can be very healing and, I’m aware, as a minister, that many people use our church buildings for such a reason as they drop in to sit quietly and find solace during the week.

An ancient building that has stood the test of time also speaks of those firm foundations that Jesus alluded to and suggests that divine help is constantly available to whoever cries out in need.

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