This week has seen yet another terrorist attack in the UK, the fourth this year in the UK alone. And this less than a week after the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London, which has left an unknown number dead and many homeless. As a community, how should we respond to these incidents? Are they anyone’s fault?

Of course terrorist attacks and tragedies like the Grenfell fire are very different. But many of the ways in which they affect communities are similar, and many of the questions they prompt are similar too. From all of these events have come stories of great heroism, accounts of people putting themselves at risk to help others. The Muslim worshippers who caught and held the Finsbury Park attacker until police arrived. The firemen and other emergency services who fought so hard to save lives at Grenfell. Those who struggled to overpower the Borough Market knife attackers. Those who ran to help rather than running away after the Manchester Ariane Grande concert bombing. The unarmed policeman who was fatally stabbed trying to stop the Westminster Bridge attacker entering parliament. And after all of these events communities have come together strongly to support those in need, offering everything from immediate practical help, to offers of longer-term support, and simply to show that people are not alone in their shock and their grief. And after all of these events, the first focus for people’s response has been the victims.

Yet, after each of these events has come the anger and the questioning. How did this happen? The Grenfell community are asking how the fire spread so quickly, whether building regulations or fire safety regulations were ignored, or are inadequate, and why the safety concerns of residents were ignored for many years. After the terrorist attacks people have questioned whether cuts to the police service have put the public at greater risk, and whether more can be done to protect likely targets.

When tragedies and disasters happen, it is human nature to seek someone to blame. Jesus lived at a time and in a culture where the prevailing view was that if misfortune happened to you it was your own fault; it was a punishment for something you or your ancestors had done wrong. One of the oldest books in the Bible, the Book of Job, claims this view is wrong, and Jesus never blamed anyone for their misfortunes. While Jesus clearly taught that we are each responsible for our own actions, he also taught that we each share in a community responsibility for the society we live in, we each have a responsibility to work to make that society as it should be.

  • Are there times when it is either right or wrong to try to find someone to blame?

  • For each person or group you feel tempted to blame, try to decide what a positive outcome would look like for you.

  • Is there a difference between vengeance and justice? What might it look like in the situation you considered?

Prayer for the week - 22nd June 2017

 

After calling a general election because she did not think her party’s position gave her the authority she needed to govern, Prime Minister Teresa May’s party has been returned with fewer seats and no overall majority, apparently giving Teresa May the authority she needed.

 

 The cake looked just mouth-wateringly delicious. I wasn’t hungry. I hadn’t even been without cake for a while. I certainly didn’t need it, and there was no good excuse for eating it. Yet the temptation to cut a slice was very real.

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