The events in relation to this reflective thought for the day may be old news now but with a stretch of imagination you can relate the analogy to anything of a similar nature.
There’s something about a tragedy that can bring a community together in a way that nothing else can. Two separate events recently perfectly highlighted God’s love for humankind in relationship to this.
The first illustration came from the fictional TV drama, Broadchurch, which had us gripped to our seats for its conclusion. It was revealed to us that the person responsible for the murder of a young boy at the beginning of the series was a member of that close community.
As part of the eulogy during the boy’s funeral, the vicar relayed to the small island community the message that God loves every one of us, and he talked about how God demonstrated this by sending His only son to pay the price for our sin. He said that we should forgive others as God has forgiven us, and even though forgiveness seems impossible in these circumstances we owe it to God to at least try. The final scene was set on the cliff top, above the beach where the boy’s body had been found, and the mother of the boy, surrounded by family and friends, lit a bonfire as a final farewell to her son. We were left with an image that was not one of tragedy, but one of hope, when householders along the shore line lit bonfires in succession, as a declaration of support for the family.
In the same week as this episode was shown, a second illustration to underline the message of God’s love came via an email. It had been sent as a round robin throughout Scarborough, North Yorkshire, as a response to the fatal stabbing of a teenage boy the previous weekend, the outcome of an alleged pre-organised fight. Nine teenagers had been taken in for questioning in connection with this. The email was sent in the wake of the aftermath, and offered a common place for people to gather to focus prayers of healing and peace for the victim’s family, friends of the murdered teenager, and also to pray for the young people involved. It was an open invitation to the whole town to come along and light a candle on the beach from a set time, near the place where the murder had occurred.
This simple act of lighting a candle (or a bonfire) as an act of prayer can serve as a reassurance of God’s presence in our times of trial. We do need be aware however that God is not responsible for the evil that happens in the world, and that he is there with us to help pick up the pieces when its consequence affects us. This is proven time and again through those He chooses to send as angels in our moments of need. In the two examples here, the angels were in the form of the fictitious vicar (via the writer of the drama series), and the sender of the email. Both events portrayed hope, fictional and factual, through the action of one person who utilised an opportunity to instigate an idea. An idea that helped to bring a community together through an act of prayer, mutual support, and provide a way forward towards healing and, perhaps eventually, forgiveness.
Psalm 147 verse 3 tells us that God heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. But God also wants to save us from ourselves and therefore in Colossians 3:13 we are told to ‘bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ (NIV) Sometimes, that means forgiving ourselves too.
Seeking revenge should never be an option
© Julie Fairweather