Bishop’s New Year Message
1st January 2016
There is one photo which stands out more that every other one in 2015. It was taken in September. It is a shot of the body of Alan or Aylan Kurdi, the three year old Syrian boy, lying dead, face down in the waves on a Turkish beach. He and his family were fleeing the civil war in Syria but he, his brother Galib, his mother and his uncle never made it to safely.
One hundred years ago today, on the first of January 1915 there were frantic efforts on another beach – the beach at Gallipoli where stranded soldiers were being evacuated. Families here in Beds and Herts waited anxiously for news of their fathers, brothers and sons. Many of them died before they could be rescued.
Two thousand years ago a small family, Joseph, Mary and their newborn baby, Jesus, fled to Egypt from the infanticide committed by King Herod. They were the asylum seekers.
Tragic stories such as Alan Kurdi’s death four months ago are nothing new.
Anyone who has ever come face to face with serious danger or death talks of how it has changed their lives. So many of the things that seemed vitally important before now appear frivolous. A friend of mine who has survived cancer speaks passionately of how she wants to make every moment count now. She says she now has a different set of values. She insists that she wants to live for the things that really matter in life. It’s changed how she spends her time, her energy and even her money.
The photo of Alan Kurdi’s body is a powerful and graphic reminder that as we prepare for a new year – 2016 – we can choose the sort of world that we want to build for us and for our children. I want to work for a world where we value every human life, where each person matters. As a Christian I believe that is how God sees us – unique and valuable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful in 2016 if we could also treat one another in the same way?
+Alan St Albans