At this time of writing, it is so very difficult to know what to actually write about ! Over the period of just a few weeks devastation has been bought by floods to northern Australia and an earthquake to Christchurch, New Zealand. A tsunami has struck northern Japan claiming the lives of as yet unknown thousands of people and could still cause nuclear catastrophe. At the same time, the Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt have been removed by popular uprising, civil war has broken out in Libya and the authorities are trying to contain unrest in Bahrain. At the same time, as well as mobilising its practical response to all the above in care and support, the Christian family begins its journey through the season of Lent towards Holy Week, Good Friday and the eventual triumphant celebration of Easter. Difficult it may be, but here goes …..
Middle East Conflict
The agonising spectacle of civil war in Libya exposes the lack of progress made in international conflict-resolution. Advances in communication technology and the bravery of war correspondents mean that viewers worldwide can watch with horror the unequal fight between those in the pay of the Gaddafi regime and revolutionary forces seeking liberty for themselves and their country. With America refusing to get involved and Western leaders finding agreement difficult about an appropriate response, we are left feeling the discomfort of impotence. Things might change as the days pass but there seems to be a new collective realisation that with the continuing lack of stability in Iraq and conflict ongoing in Afghanistan, no longer can the West be relied on to send in their gunboats on impulse – even when their peoples yearn to prevent death and injury and support others’ desperate struggle for freedom and justice. Without doubt, the present crisis in Libya ought to make Western Governments think hard and long about the morality – or otherwise – of their foreign policies and acknowledge that much of the oppression which many in the Middle East (and elsewhere) have endured for decades has been a direct consequence of our own greed for oil and power.
Lent & Holy Week
The weeks prior to Easter are always hard and challenging. The last days of Jesus were full of events and sayings that shone a piercing light onto his personality, relationships and beliefs. If it is the event of Easter that brought the early Christians a new sense of hope for their living, it is Jesus’ reaction to the events of that first Holy Week which give their hope credibility. We, therefore, cannot expect to enter the full glory of Easter’s reality without first coming to an understanding of what lay behind his rejection, suffering and crucifixion.
As is our custom, on the Monday to Thursday evenings during Holy Week – April 18 to 21 – a special series of services will be held within the church starting at the slightly earlier time of 7.00pm. Everyone is most welcome to come along. This year’s reflections will focus on the re-awakening of common images and themes in the Easter story. We will try to look with ‘new eyes’ at these crucial events and ask them those questions which world events demand. This ancient and sacred story may yet surprise us, for it has new things to tell – if only we are prepared to listen.
Wishing you a very Happy Easter!
Minister of Bothwell