Bishop’s Letter: Finding Hope
(This article reproduces the message given by Bishop Richard at the Luton Vigil for the victims of the Manchester bombing)
This is written in the immediate aftermath of the horrific bomb blast in Manchester, and the murder and maiming of so many people, especially the young. At times such as this most ask the question where is ‘hope’? Amidst this reminder of the capacity of human beings for evil, hope seems elusive and absent.
Yet, without in any way diminishing the reality and awfulness of the suicide bombing, I believe we can see hope. It is the hope, expressed in so many ways, that our response must not to be distracted into that fear that divides us from our neighbour, but rather we must continue to live our lives with generosity and love for others. The aim of terrorists is to diminish us, to make us fearful of one another. The way in which the people of Manchester have refused to be captive to fear overcomes this threat.
It is the hope of small acts of kindness. Those taxi drivers who took people home from the Arena free of charge. The Sikh Gurdwara that opened its doors and offered refreshment. Hotels and cafes that took people in. The homeless man who rushed to help. The professionalism and skill of the emergency services.
It is the hope expressed by vigils in Manchester and across the country (such as the one I participated in in Luton) where people of all faiths and none came together to Finding Hope witness to those bonds of friendship and relationship that are the foundation of our resilience as a country. A sign of the strength of interfaith and community relations in this country, and the basis of a renewed commitment to work together for peace.
It is the hope of which St Paul writes in his letter to the Romans. His conviction that
“neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38f)
The hope that is love; God’s narrative for his creation. The massacre at the end of that Ariana Grande concert is narrative of hatred and evil. But that is never the story that endures. Rather it is God’s story of love that always wins through; that divine love that always overcomes hate.
Bishop Richard, Bedford