St Andrew’s Church
Sunday 18th June 2017
Extract from Sermon by Reverend Lesley Belinda
How do we as Christians respond to such tragedies? How do we make sense of what has happened?
Of course there are questions to be answered as to why this could possibly have happened in C21st London. And we hope and pray that enquiries and investigations will get to the bottom of this and ensure that such a dreadful situation will never, ever arise again.
But no answers, however well meaning, will bring back lives that have been lost, or erase the nightmare memories of that terrible night. What we must do, however, is to stand alongside those who are suffering. Compassion literally means to suffer with, to share the burden of pain and suffering that our brother, sister, neighbour is experiencing. But we find that difficult. We feel helpless and want to ‘do’ something to help – and of course there is a time for ‘doing’ in practical ways of help. But there is also a time for silent accompanying, simply ‘being’ alongside another in their grief, anger and confusion.
We serve a God who knows suffering through Jesus: a God who therefore suffers with us in compassion, and travels alongside us in our grief. This is not a God who sits aloof on a shiny cloud up in the sky somewhere, but One who is present with us, in all the messiness and chaos of our lives here and now. A God who weeps with us.
And there’s more.
The violent, untimely death of Jesus was not the end of the story. Through the resurrection of Jesus God transformed death into life, despair into hope. Christians are people of hope – not immune from suffering, but facing suffering and confusion with the assurance that one day God WILL transform it and bring new life.
So today we pray for those who have lost everything, those who wait for the news they are dreading, those who are fighting for their lives. We pray that they will know God’s compassion through the kindness and generosity of strangers and neighbours, and that we ALL will play our part in building a society based on love, compassion and hope.