First Larne Presbyterian Church

First Larne Presbyterian Church

What a Wonderful World?

Last weekend I watched highlights of the Trooping of the Colour ceremony in London with particular interest as it was featuring the Irish Guards. Such pageantry in the city which was still reeling after the catastrophic loss of life in the Grenfell fire. The Queen, in whose honour the annual parade is held, caught the mood well in her statement: "Today is traditionally a day of celebration. This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood."

This sombre mood was not be confined to London, even though the city was still coming to terms with the earlier terrorist attacks at Westminster on 22nd March and then at London Bridge on 3rd June. We are all mindful of the Manchester attack on 2nd May and the apparent retaliatory copy-cat attack on worshippers emerging from the Finsbury mosque earlier this week.

Such horrors, along with the political machinations in London, Belfast and Brussels may be occupying our attention. However, we are living in a world of some 65.6 million people displaced or living as refugees (UN figures for 2016). The largest proportion of forcibly displaced people are Syrians, where 12 million (65% of the population) have been violently uprooted. Last year 81,292 migrants and refugees arrived in Europe from Africa after undertaking that perilous journey across the Mediterranean. Almost 2,00 died in the attempt. The fastest growing refugee crisis is currently South Sudan, where over 3 million people (one third of the population) have fled, some to neighbouring Uganda.

Given the events at home and abroad can we, with any integrity, be optimistic? Actually, YES! I don't mean cock-eyed optimists. I don't mean polly anna-ish naivety. I do mean living as people who know there is more. Even though as a nation we may continue to worry and mourn we are the people who can live as a community of hope.

Perhaps this is the time when our nation needs to know there is a different narrative. Perhaps this is the time when we in the Church are most needed to be that salt and light Jesus spoke about. Perhaps we have been made for such a time as this.....