In the past few weeks the headlines have been dominated by two terrible acts of violence – a white supremacist gunman entered a Church Bible Study and shot dead 8 people and then an Islamic terrorist murdered 38 tourists on a beach (30 of which were British). And this coming week will mark the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 London Bombings. At 8.49am three bombs were detonated on three tube trains and almost an hour later a fourth bomb was set off on a bus in Russell Square, 56 people lost their lives.
As a serving police officer at the time, the events of 7/7 and its subsequent investigation changed me forever. It was from the amazing privilege of leading a body recovery team into the tube tunnels that in the darkest place I found the light of Christ dimly (I have to say) shining, but nonetheless shining. It was this recognition of God’s presence in the darkest places that convinced me to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yes, it is always shocking the capacity of cruelty that a human being can show towards another human being, but I firmly believe that our capacity to love one another (as Jesus taught us) will always outstrip our capacity to harm each other.
The stories of hope and a defiance to carry on that have emerged (and which we remember this Tuesday at Morning Prayer 8.30am at St Barnabas’) from 7/7 should inspire us to love more rather than retaliate in hatred, as will, I pray, similar stories from Charleston and Tunisia in years to come. The pain is too sore right now and the time is to grieve. It is often in this pain that God uses our weakness (as Paul writes) to make us strong if we place our trust and hope in God.