What will you be remembering on the 1st July? Healthy young men riddled by machine gun bullets; healthy young heads smashed by shrapnel; still children bathed in mother’s love and God’s; the first day of the Battle of the Somme; 1st July 1916. Like Jesus, they held nothing back, but gave everything. Can God resurrect life from death; innocence from guilt; love from hatred?
While the future can be changed, sinners, who desire power and know best, organise communal death and lonely bereavement. But slowly, God gives the earth to the meek.
Violence oozes like pus from our fights over the future. Christians dream that a pure king with a perfect destiny will define the future. Then violence will die as we listen to the mercy of God.
For now, there is no conflict in true listening, organising a trial solution, listening to the results, modifying the trial and listening again. Evil, on the other hand, will never listen.
For centuries, pain has been used in the pursuit of power like a mediaeval horror. But pain is just the unpleasant sensation at the limits of ability, the invisible sphere surrounding each individual’s life, reminding us of our limitations, the walls of our prison. Pain exists to help us as a protection mechanism by which the body limits damage. Think of the man who couldn’t feel pain in his knee (Charcot’s joint). That knee was destroyed by living beyond its limitations. Bereavement is bouncing off the walls of our prison, our limitations. Pain controls and unites us in the mercy of God.
Jesus is the man who enters my prison and ‘the walls came tumbling down’. To me Jesus calls to us from his Cross –I would rather die than use violence. There is no violence in His Kingdom.
Emotionally we can try to ameliorate bereavement by reducing our desires; seeking justice; feeling the love of others through community and giving; developing skills which are of value to others; forgetting; diagnosing and treating mental illness; working for projects which address the cause of our bereavement; going through the grieving process which slowly tries to accept what has happened or if necessary seeking repentance.
Bereavements are always with us because love is eternal, but the service of others which Jesus teaches opens up new relationships with countless people and a new life of hope.
Glory be to you, Lord Jesus. If you wish it, don’t haunt us but resurrect us; life from death; love from hatred; innocence from guilt. ‘As the distance from east to west, so far from us does he put our faults’. Psalm 103: 12.
Peter Coates, secretary of Churches Together in King’s Lynn.
Linden, Bircham Rd, Stanhoe, Norfolk, PE318PT.