Once again it seems that we have faced a very challenging week. As we celebrated in fun and laughter in the glorious sun of the last Saturday’s St Nicholas fete, news slowly trickled through of the terrible tragedy at the Shoreham Air Show and then the heart-breaking news of the death of Pam’s granddaughter who was struck by a car.
As I watched the news and spoke to colleagues who were ministering to those affected in Shoreham there has been a tremendous outpouring of grief. A few people came to Church to find comfort but the focal point has become the floral tribute on Shoreham footbridge near to the crash site. This has become a familiar scene along our roads with smaller tributes marking the site of fatal car accidents. One of the things that such sites and the Shoreham Bridge demonstrates is our human need to gather at a place in our grief. Perhaps in the past this place was the Church but increasingly in today’s society this has not been the case.
One reason could be that just as the Pharisees were more concerned with religious rules of how people should behave rather than what was in people’s heart, churches have become unwelcoming, worrying too much that people should behave and do things in a certain way rather than holding out our arms in all embracing love in order to welcome newcomers and regular attendees in the same way. As we enter this season of welcome in the Church’s calendar, if we do welcome everyone then Churches may remain a safe place to gather to be comforted by one another and by God in our times of grief as well as joy.