Offering prayers for Grenfell: Reverend David Jones

Thought for the week – Reverend David Jones

The devastating fire that engulfed the Grenfell Tower which resulted in such great loss of life and injury has left us all with a great sense of sorrow for those lost, bereaved and injured together with a sense of indignation that such a tragedy could occur in our day and age. Health, safety and fire regulations are by now supposedly so stringent that it’s beyond any reasoned comprehension that a building housing so many hundreds of residents should be without a sprinkler system or any adequate fire alarm. With so many seriously injured, families left bereft and bereaved, and many more unsure what has happened to their loved ones the depths of sorrow and every other emotion from anger and a deep passion for justice is totally understandable. Typical statements like ‘lessons will be learned’ and even promises of an ‘inquiry’ judicial or not, are, understandably of little or no comfort. As many now wait for news of those unaccounted for, others seriously injured and traumatised, hundreds who have lost their homes and a smouldering building that stands in its stark blackness as a cruel reminder of such a tragedy it’s a hard and heavy burden to bear.

Then again, the enormous bravery and dedication of the support services was exemplary. First response teams, fire fighters, police, ambulance services were on site within minutes and have gained the respect and gratitude of all. Within the community itself people of all ages and backgrounds, of all faiths and none came together and in simple acts of care and kindness giving us a glimpse of what community really means. Food, clothing, offerings of hospitality flooded in from near and afar. Royalty, political leaders representing the wider community stood with the hurt and bereft giving the assurance that they were not alone in their deep sorrow.

If such a movement of love and empathy arise within us when we hear of the pain and sorrow of others, how much more is God’s heart moved. The Bible recognises the weakness of human experience because we are all subject to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. As history records, human failings often of titanic proportions sadly do occur. Last year we remembered Aberfan and the tragic loss of life which devastated that community fifty years ago. Long after the TV crews will have left Grenfell the pain will continue and those affected will have to bear the burden of sorrow which will remain. Then begins the long process of coming to terms with such tragedy and that in itself will seem like an unending path for so many. It’s at such times that we remember the promises of God who is the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 leading us through the valley of the shadow of death to the still waters of peace. Jesus never gave us the assurance that we would be exempt from the losses and tragedies of life, but the certain promise that within such sufferings God would make His peace and presence known. Our prayers and love go out to the people of Grenfell – May the peace of Christ be theirs.

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