Livability’s Corin Pilling reflects on the actions of the citizens of London and Manchester, considering what happens when courage and compassion combine.
‘God of compassion and mercy,
amidst the pain and trauma of this day we turn to you,
for through Christ crucified we know that you have taken to heart the suffering of our people.’
People throughout the country have been joining in prayer and solidarity with London and Manchester. Amidst the horrific details of these events, we have also heard stories of big- hearted, resilient and proud cities. The timely actions of the citizens of London & Manchester spoke of heroism and courage, yet also gentleness and love.
The good- hearted actions that started to trickle through the news updates stand in strong and hopeful contrast to the stark vacuum created by the violent acts perpetrated. There were stories of immense self-sacrifice, and there were also many instances of the simple examples of people choosing to be kind. Many of these acts of kindness would pass without muster at any other time, but in the face of tragedy we see how remarkable they are. It turns out that the ordinary gesture of compassion is a mighty act indeed.
These acts become deeply significant in the face of ‘the ultimate forgetfulness of violence.’ It is forgetful because it seeks to deny the idea that all are made in the image of God. It seeks to diminish and destroy that possibility. Instead, each act of compassion speaks the truth we long for; that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and worthy of love. In their ordinary goodness, these actions convey the gift of dignity. They reflect the image of God in both giver and receiver, even in our most stumbling attempts. In this context, even the humble cup of tea can offer the possibility of the restoration of God’s image.
The good of community is that it encourages us all to bring what we have. There will be innumerable kind acts which will go unreported from the events over these last weeks. Their very ordinary nature means they are not newsworthy. Yet the values of Jesus’s kingdom declare that the things that look like a footnote in history are anything but. In the economy of the kingdom, such forgotten actions become headline acts. When the work of humility and goodness become rightly celebrated, we see a taste of this kingdom. Simple loaves and fishes also multiply to abundance as we play our own small part in the bigger picture.
In the face of immense tragedy and grief, when we place kind acts together, each story becomes a brick to build a wall of hope we can all contribute to constructing. It’s not an easy task, but it is a vital one. It’s part of our collective calling to be ones that are ‘rebuilders of broken walls’ in our communities. These are the stories worth telling- the ones that remind us that together we can live a story of restoration- that we can all do something and that it does make a difference.
‘In fear and anxiety, strengthen us.
In despair and pain, comfort us.
In incomprehension and anger, reassure us that your love and life are stronger than the hatred and violence which overshadows our city today.
Console those who carry a burden of loss, injury, or trauma and empower all who support them.
Strengthen all who seek to stand together in peace and unity.
We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.’
A Prayer from the Methodist Church in response to the attack in Manchester.