Well over half a life time ago I saw the Boomtown Rats at Finsbury Park Rainbow. Monday I put on a greatest hits CD in the car as I drove home as I couldn’t fine a radio station I wanted to listen to. We had been decluttering at work and I found a stash of old CDs – I have worked in the same place for 20 years now so some of them were old! I sang along to Rat Trap at full volume. As I did I was saddened that a song which is over forty years old still seems so pertinent today. I can picture people and places as I sing it now just as I could back when it first came out. I also realised that throughout my career I have had a passion for working with people like the Billy of the song. That may seem a little odd to those of you who know what I do but for many people education is one of the options to ‘find a way out’. The thought that ‘hope bites the dust behind all the closed doors’ makes me grieve and when I think back over the years I have been involved in education my mind goes to Maria, to Jenny, to others where I began to see a glimmer of hope. Ultimately my hope is in Christ and a decision to follow Jesus as a teenager is what made such a significant difference to me. I wasn’t in a ‘rat trap’ as in the song but still needed to be set free. I am very grateful for the privilege of being involved in theological education where we seek to support people in finding their vocation and fulfilling their God-given potential. Singing the song was very cathartic. After a long day of meetings it was good to remember one of the things that motivates me.
I am still being nourished by our reading weekend. Quite often on a Sunday I am presiding at a Eucharist and this phrase ‘hints of hope’ blesses me. Just like when I see a rainbow that evokes a sense of hope in me, so I see so many hints of hope in people as I encounter them across the week. And it is so often in seeing people’s faithfulness in the every day little things that gives me that glimpse.
We are fed in worship, blessed, and sent out to be ‘hints of hope’ … We are part of God’s big vision and mission – the redemption of all things – through the earthy craft of living out our vocation, hour by hour, task by task. I want to do the big work of the kingdom, but I have to learn to live it out in the small tasks before me – the missio Dei in the daily grind p95.
Warren, T. H. (2016). Liturgy of the ordinary. Downers Grove: IVP.
I am posting this message from Lavender Kelley, the President of the American Pediatric Chaplains Network, as it offers far more eloquently that I can a perspective on the tragedy in Las Vegas:
We are pained by the tragedy in Las Vegas and send our prayers and healing intentions to all the victims, their families, first responders, and healthcare providers.
We are especially aware of the spiritual and emotional impact that such an event can have on the children in our lives—children of the victims of this terrible shooting, both directly and indirectly, as well as children that hear about these events in the media and wonder about how it affects themselves, their family and friends, the world around them and how it affects what they believe about the Holy and humanity. Truly, this incident is one that will have ripple effects far into the future. All of us will be touched in some way because of the insidiousness of gun violence and the way it breeds hopelessness. Unfortunately, we have witnessed this on a daily basis in too many places. Moreover, this tragedy comes at a time in our country when communication and support have grown increasingly difficult because of social and political polarization. Yet, it is in the midst of that pain and hopelessness that chaplains must bring light.
Our answer must be to hold on.
We must hold onto one another, hold onto hope, hold onto relationships, and hold onto love. We must make our arms wider and help others learn to hold on as well. Our faith practices and calling as a chaplain compel us to this. We must tend to one another so that we can return to our work full of vitality.
While I am not a chaplain, I resonate with this final paragraph, there are many other tragedies at the local personal or community level as well as more nationally and globally. We need hope and we need to learn more about how we help each other hold on.
Rainbow’s End was the name of a house by a stream in Launceston. It captured my imagination as a name for a house. It was in an idyllic setting and I can see how someone who bought it may feel like they have found a pot of gold. Later that same day we saw this rainbow – and I got as close as I could without getting wet. I wonder sometimes if I need to take that extra step towards something or someone to embody the hope that a rainbow gives me. Some days I need a little of the abandon seen in the children playing so joyfully.
I have written this yesterday believing that I will need more time to reflect on wherever we are this morning before commenting on that. This is a picture from Sunday where people were picking up the stones we had used throughout Lent and Easter and taking them out into the community. We built a cairn in lent adding one word a week on stones and in the Easter season we built a path from the Easter Garden with them. So messages of hope, compassion, trust, generosity, love, friendship have been taken by members of Hodge Hill Church into their communities. Whatever we are looking at this morning these messages will still be relevant.
Many people have been interviewed about how they understand and are dealing with the recent terrorist attracts. Most have said pray, some said comfort and support those injured, bereaved individuals, their families or support staff involved.
I was asked today by a parent of a very poorly child if I believed in God and if so why did God allow this? I said I did believe in God, just like the many Christians who have come to the aid on bridges and concert venues. And as to why, I did not know but I was sure God loved their child and them, was broken hearted and wept with them at their bedside. I also said that I would not insult their pain by giving him a trite answer in the midst of such sadness, but that I grieve with others over broken bodies seeking to live a loving life in a broken world. Sadly, I expect that by this family, many others and our nation even more questions will be asked over the coming days.
Sometimes, like today, and the last few sad weeks, I hope less is more and this more is never less.
This week here in Birmingham, during redevelopment an unexploded WWII bomb was found in Aston. Lives, homes and businesses were under threat, it was chaos, people moved out of their homes, roads closed, businesses made inaccessible while the bomb was made as safe as possible and a controlled explosion prepared for and carried out. We were only marginally inconvenienced, my journey,15 mins usually, was 2.5 hours on Tuesday morning.
It got me thinking and reflecting, what unexploded bombs do we have in our lives? Or even have we dropped into others lives? What harm and damage which has been done or said to us has or did lay dormant? Things just sit there and then suddenly something happens to bring it to the surface. Can we help people do a controlled explosion in pastoral or therapeutic care? What about the guy in the digger who first found it? How do you know when to stop digging?
Originally, the intentionality of the bomb was to harm and cause damage but then became indiscriminate as to where it actually was dropped. Systemic oppression still exists and can do physical and emotional harm. We may still be getting caught in the fallout – sometimes we are at the wrong place at the wrong time. There are individual, family, community, national, international, global bombs – there are bombs that will come back and impact us. we felt the blast a mile away .
Theologically, some things will not heal this side of eternity. Peter lived the rest of life knowing that he denied Jesus. The wounds of Jesus were still apparent in his risen body – wounds shouldn’t be vanished away. In our Christian hope – cross and crown are both significant.
Just because weapons of harm have been dormant for many years, does not mean they are not dangerous. Let’s be gracious with ourselves and others and be prepared for when the churning of life brings new things to the surface. They may need to explode, but let’s offer and help create a safe environment for them to be dealt with.