It’s been a week where we have seen the best and worst of people, and I’m sitting here in the Circuit office reflecting on it all.
It’s taken me almost a week to get to this point, so please forgive these ramblings……….
Last Monday, the terrible news of the Manchester bombing. As a person who has previously worked in the Manchester area and who retains a great love for the City and especially Oldham it has caused great upset and anger within me. However, I too concur with those who speak of the Mancunian spirit, having been there when the shopping centre experienced the IRA bombing on 15 June 1996. Thankfully no one was killed but over 200 were injured.
As a City they will rise up again and the generous, good-hearted people with a strong sense of community will prevail I’m sure.
For the rest of the week it’s hung heavy in the air and affected the mood of the nation. I personally have found it hard to lift myself above an all-encompassing black cloud; yes, I’ve laughed and joked and supported people for that is what I think I’m called to do, but throughout it all there has been a great heaviness in my heart.
I feel for the good, honest, Muslims amongst us who have been again subjected as scape-goats for those who would hijack a peaceful, loving faith for their own twisted ends. I think back to those Oldham days where I got far more respect from the Muslim community than I did from so-called Christians: I think of Mundoor with whom I played football and the only difference between us was our club allegiances.
I grieve at the opportunistic party politics especially from the likes of UKIP and BNP etc who this week have seized on this atrocity simply to push their agenda of hate and division.
I rejoice at my Muslim brothers and sisters all over the UK who have urged their leaders to teach more, teach better and teach about tolerance and love. I urge my Christian brothers and sisters the same.
This week I have seriously questioned the whole issue of organised religion in the face of many (including within my own family) who have added to the hurt by condemning religion. Do I want to be a part of something that is seen and often accused of causing war, division and hatred ? Do I want to be a part of an organisation which decries homosexuality, love between people outside of marriage such as Westboro Baptists in America and similar hate filled groups in our own country ?
Unequivocally, I say NO I don’t and I’m saddened when because of my faith I’m automatically aligned with those of hate and ultimately with those of murder.
I feel that those who trot out the old adage “religion causes war/death/hatred etc” lump those of us who see love, respect, tolerance in our faith together with those who we call terrorists and let me tell you that hurts me to the very core of my being.
I believe in a Jesus who I have met so many times over the years, in so many different ways; a Jesus who proclaimed over 2000 years ago “Love your neighbour” and still says it today. That’s who my faith is based on, someone who knows how imperfect I am but still loves me, a person who challenges me to find the best in others and love them for their potential not for their failings (for I have far too many of this do dare judge others).
It is my love for Jesus and the knowledge of his love for people that has brought me through this week. Yes, the dark cloud is still there but it’s beginning to lift………
I pray that for those families affected by that atrocity the clouds will eventually lift and the light of love will shine again.