Why in God’s name?

“I commend our political leaders for standing together in Creggan on Good Friday. I am however left with the question. Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman, with her whole life in front of her, to get to this point?” Father Martin Magill speaking at the funeral of Lyra McKee on 24th April 2019

This was clearly directed at Arlene Foster and Mary Lou McDonald, the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Has the message got across? Well it will struggle to judging by the immediate response that these figures were the last to stand and applaud as others in the congregation rose.

 Politicians and other public figures play a key role and are in a difficult position because they represent sections of the community whose position they seek to protect and whose support they seek to garner.

 We have just finished celebrating Easter and on Easter Sunday, when we remembered what the cross stands for – forgiveness in Christ today and judgment through Christ in the future. Both are crucial. This is easily said but it is the Christian message and it is vital to grasp and put in that order.

However, we frequently we reverse the order – we dispense judgment now and postpone forgiveness for the future.

This is what preoccupied power figures in the last week of Jesus’ life and jams the politicians, religious and public leaders in Northern Ireland but also in many other contexts.

 In the greatest challenges of our time, we need brave movements of recognition, forgiveness and reconciliation to come to the fore now and to seek reckoning, reordering and judgment in the future that will not be controlled by one interest group. This dynamic needs to play out in the spheres of politics on the island of Ireland, addressing the environmental crisis, combatting violent extremism and debates about Europe to name but a few.

 For Christians to say that this movement needs the enabling, sacrificial love and authority of Christ is not a narrow religious point. It is the heart of our faith and recognition that leaders who represent vested interest will find it hardest to meet this challenge.

 The Easter good news of forgiveness and judgment is for people personally and also for society at large. Everything must, can and will be different because of Easter and the cross. This can create a liberating order of forgiveness and judgment when engaged with by politicians, campaigners, journalists and community leaders alike. Without this history may repeat itself.

So when Father Martin Magill asks: “Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman, with her whole life in front of her, to get to this point?” maybe we have the answer.

 Graham Brownlee, April 2019


Abiding – 12 hours of prayer – Saturday 4th May – 10am to 10pm

This is an all age event. Feel free to drop in any time between 10am and 10pm and stay for as long or as little as you like.

The theme of the day is ‘Abiding’. There will be prayer stations, practical prayer, silence, music, worship, mindfulness and movement all flowing into each other throughout the day.

If you have something you want to bring to the day or want to play an instrument then please speak to Shelley or Nathan Dring or Suzanna or Phil Laws.

There will be coffee and tea all through the day. However, if your’e planning on staying over the lunchtime period you’ll need to bring your own sarnies. 

Do you remember our youngster’s Nepal Cake Bake… well here’s what they achieved

Besides receiving this splendid certificate of thanks Hilary Willmer was recently sent a link to the Spring edition of a wonderful 24 page magazine called Today in Nepal. This publication is free to download by clicking on any of the highlighted links.  It really is a great read, not only is it packed with stories of change and new beginnings, it brings fresh insight into the amazing work that the International Nepal Fellowship and its supporters are doing. Below are just a few tasters of some of the Spring edition’s stories. 

A new chapter for people with disabilities in Gorkha and Banke
After four years of hard work the projects in Gorkha are drawing to a close. Partner communities who lived through the trauma and devastation caused by massive earthquakes in 2015 have finished rebuilding their homes and public buildings. In helping them recover, INF focused primarily on the needs of people with disabilities and many communities are now much more inclusive. Peoples’ attitudes have changed and homes and public buildings are accessible for all.
In this magazine you can see how Manju and Devna, two young women who participated in a similar project in Banke, managed to turn around their lives. Thanks to your gifts, circumstances of hundreds of people like Manjuand Devna, who are living with disabilities, have significantly improved. Local groups are ready to carry on with the work by themselves, so the project will be coming to an end in June – a great achievement to celebrate…
New communities in Bajura are preparing to work with INF
After five years, we will soon be saying goodbye to people in our projects in Jukot, Sappata and Wai.
Meanwhile, others are preparing for a new chapter on their journey out of poverty. The majority of our selfhelp groups in Bajura are already in the process of registering as independent cooperatives. With a helping hand from supporters like you, local people pooled their resources and worked together to improve their income opportunities. Families are now better placed to earn a reliable income and many no longer need to leave home to work abroad. They have food all your around and can afford to send their children to school. People in Himali and Budhinanda have seen the change that INF’s work has brought to their neighbouring communities and are eagerly preparing to follow their example. Maheswori and Nanda are two of the leaders of newly established self-help groups. You can meet them on page 16.Green Pastures Hospital – new services to reach more patients
UK donations and gifts left in wills have funded the first phase of the hospital’s development. Thanks to your generosity we were able repair and refurbish buildings, and to upgrade wards and theatres. The team of specialists is steadily growing and the first new services are already available. The focus on poor and marginalised people remains at the heart of Green Pastures’ leadership team. With a growing range of services, some paying clients and a dedicated Poor Fund the vision that no one will be send away is well on its way.Nepal’s first hospice for all life-limiting or terminal conditions
Palliative care at Green Pastures is also ready for a step change. Over the last three years, thanks to your gifts, we were able to pilot a basic hospice services. This was hugely successful. As a result, a large donor has agreed to fund a hospice building in Green Pastures grounds; we have pledged to find the funding for additional staff, furniture and equipment. Hospice care is rare in Nepal and only available at a few large cancer-focused hospitals. The hospice will be the first in Nepal to offer care for all patients, regardless of their condition. And, as it will be an integral part of Green Pastures, patients will benefit from its whole range of services, including pain management and counselling.Your support has made all this possible. Thank you.
These are just some of the highlights and you can find much more inside your magazine. Much has already been achieved, but our plans remain ambitious – the need in Nepal is still great. Our focus is, as always, to serve poor and marginalised people. People who are hidden, neglected or excluded because of their caste, a disease or disability. We want them to have the best medical care possible, fair opportunities to access work and education, and a chance to live fulfilled and independent lives in inclusive communities where all can play an equal part. Change is possible – hopefully this magazine will show you how much we can achieve together. Thank you for your support.

Talking on the cliff edge – Leave/Remain – Haddon Willmer urges Church to engage in conversation on the Brexit debate

This post begins with an extract from a feature that appeared in the Guardian on April 15th. It tells of the many difficult conversations that had to take place before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. It continues with an article by Haddon Willmer in which he writes about the need for similarly tough conversations to take place now and argues the importance of Church facing up to and debating the “disagreements, frustrations and fears” of the current Brexit crisis. 

From the Guardian 15 April 2019 Blair and Ahern

Of all of the meetings we were involved in leading up to the Good Friday agreement, none were more difficult than those with family members of victims of the Troubles. Widows of British army soldiers and RUC officers, sons and daughters, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers of nationalists, republicans, loyalists. There were those who could not understand why we were seeking a deal with people who had killed their loved ones, or releasing from prison people who had committed horrendous crimes. Yet there were also those who made us promise to make the process work to ensure that others would not have to go through what they did. These conversations made us determined to ensure that such courage would form the basis upon which those following could build a better future.

Yet in practice, it was also time away from these conversations and from the media storm that enabled the Good Friday agreement to come together. It was time in the company of rivals with differing versions of what was right, and what was wrong, what was possible, and what was not; people with the personality and resolution, when surrounded by uncertainty and competing visions of the future, to put together a new power-sharing agreement.

Nobody should compare the tragedy of the Troubles to Brexit, but … the necessity for calm matters even more

Of course, nobody should compare the tragedy of the Troubles to Brexit, but as the rhetoric becomes stronger, the language becomes more divisive and inflammatory, the divisions in the Tory and Labour parties more evident, the need for calm matters even more. Having conversations with the public matters. Speak to those who voted remain, the 48%, alongside those who voted leave, and try to understand both. Speak to those who do not tweet incessantly or rage endlessly on radio phone-ins, as well as those who do. Understand that the public are undergoing the same process of churn and reflection as the politicians, and give them permission to be honest about that. Getting away from the media chaos to do this matters. Getting the right personalities together from across parties matters. Teams of rivals must be built.

From   https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/14/good-friday-agreement-ireland-brexit-tony-blair-bertie-ahern


Above is part of a longer article by Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern relating the achieving of the Good Friday agreement to our task now of working together to make the least damaging outcome of the Brexit issue that we can.  

It is a call for engaging in conversations, which have become more difficult than ever, across the gulfs of disagreement, fear and frustration, which now divide us. The conversation is not only for politicians but for people in general.  Not only for those who ‘tweet incessantly’ but also for those who don’t. Not only for those who talk freely because they are excited or fearful, but those who tend to keep quiet and take shelter in fraught situations – even while they worry in private. We are all already living in the confusion of the way to Brexit, and we will all have to live with it as it unfolds for years to come.  

Politicians talk and show how demanding it is for ordinary human beings to deal with a complex of issues like Brexit – or the Northern Irish situation as it was in the 1990s. We expect them to do the talking for us and to solve the problem and we criticize and despise them from failing, from our positions of superior evasion. Blair and Ahern remind us that many different people were engaged in difficult conversations out of which real if imperfect change happened, a working agreement to work together in future. In those conversations many people, half-politicians or un-politicians moved from their silos to talk with the enemies next door. That was not easy, either to start or to persist with.   

On Brexit many of us are still in our silos, Leave or Remain. Families and friends avoid breaking up by never talking about it. What does it do to our relationships when we live closely together, feeling that some issue is real and important, and yet being unable to talk about it together, calmly and constructively? It is like a disease that makes holes in the bones. 

Questions about the UK and the EU have been pressing on us for the last four years. All through those years, many of us have been going to Church, indeed trying to ‘be Church’.  But there has been virtually no conversation about Brexit amongst us. Why not? Does following Jesus make it a matter of indifference to us? Is Church for us a haven of peace, in a troubled world? All through this time, many of us in Church have been deeply concerned about Brexit and its consequences but we have not shared them, though we would like to think being Church implies a deeper than average sharing of life. We see the peoples of these islands divided, bewildered, drifting towards a cliff-edge, while some deny that there is such a thing. But we don’t talk with one another.  

We don’t talk because we fear falling out with each other. Why should we fear that would be the outcome of talking? We are aware of our passions and sensitivities, and those of others, and we don’t want to let them loose. But why could we not keep them in check enough to talk calmly and constructively? I think there are two reasons. One is that we can see that such a conversation would require us to be ready to get beyond our ready-made, slogan-like opinions, and work together to understand the whole situation better. Hard work like that requires patience, humility, curiosity and comradeship.  

The second reason is that when we pause to contemplate the mess we are in because of Brexit we get a glimpse of the road ahead, and it is, whatever happens, hard and steep. Whatever side we come from, Leave, Remain, of Don’t Care, it will require us to accept and live with uncomfortable outcomes. And yet, unless we can accept them with goodwill, unselfishness, care for the poorest, and the readiness for sustained hard work, we will not be able to live the future that is coming with peace and joy, love and justice. We hold back, hoping there will be an easier way, even praying for a miracle, a happy outcome achieved by a power greater than our own.   

Like it or not, the people of the UK are set a task by Brexit: it has to be lived through somehow or another. Christians in Church are set a life-task, to be salt and light, living in and serving in the world.  These are not two distinct tasks, as though we could concentrate on one and ignore the other, or be faithful and effective in one and careless about our failure in the other. In the grace of God, they have been given a large overlap, a deep intertwining. They are not identical, but they are not separable, for us now. This is why we should talk about Brexit in our secular contexts, but have the conversation in Church.  

LMFS makes the news

As a result of its efforts to attract more furniture donations The Leeds and Moortown Furniture, which as many of you know started out here at MBC has been making the news.

First, North Leeds Life, a magazine that is distributed monthly in Rounday, Moortown, Alwoodley et al and which attracts upwards of 100,00 readers reported on LMFS’s participation in the Leeds Lent Prayer Diary launch and then, shortly after, a story in the Yorkshire Evening Post told how as the result of a successful grant bid to the Sir George Martin Trust the Store’s staff and volunteers were all being kitted out with smart new uniforms. 

If you have furniture to donate please call 0113 2739727.

Or to watch a video about the Store visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2HTVHm3KLo

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com