Reflection on the events of Monday 22nd May 2017 in Manchester by Revd Mike McGurk . Mike who will be the next Archdeacon of Liverpool was part of the clergy response team in Manchester
Monday evening was an incredibly sad and painful day for Manchester and the nation as a whole. It affected many of us who have taken loved ones to concerts and other events. Many of us will have followed the news through to the early hours of Tuesday morning or woken to hear of it on the radio or TV. I wanted to write to you and encourage you to join us in prayer. Not only for the immediate needs of those bereaved, in trauma, shock and disbelief but also as we prepare as a nation, as a church united in our act of continual prayer and worship being part of 'Thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done', prayer can and will change a community, a city, a nation.
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7)
I personally would love to see our communities healed and forgiven.
Mancunians and people from many cities, towns and villages everywhere have been using words such as "they are in my thoughts and prayers" but many will be asking the question ‘why?’ As people of faith, we have been crying out for ‘thy kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it in heaven". Some might be doubting and asking “is the Lord with us here or not?” It is not a surprising question and it is not a new one. The Israelites soon after the Exodus were asking this question of Moses. (Exodus 17) As soon as tragedy strikes, the question gets asked again and why wouldn’t it’? The people, then and now, wanted to experience God’s presence and surely, but the question arises this isn’t how it feels.
When the new Exodus became a reality for us - through the death and resurrection of Jesus (and our identity and relationship restored) we were promised the presence of God and that God is faithful. “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Jesus promised. (Matthew 28). But, where is he now?
The restored identity bit is important I believe. It is easy to doubt God these past few days and we need to give that proper space and time in people's lives but as I have been listening to the news, not only from the media but also from people caught up in this tragic act of terrorism. I have heard so many ‘presence’ stories. People rushing to the aid of the injured, doctors and nurses turning up at hospitals on their days off, people spilling out of the doors at the blood banks, taxi drivers switching off their meters and ferrying people around, hotels and churches opening their doors and so many more acts of kindness which remind me of our restored image in Christ.
Part of the deal - with the new exodus and the restored identity that we are still celebrating as an Easter people - is the end of all kinds of boundaries and dividing lines, "for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son........" Let’s pray that the will of God who, in Christ, was reconciling the whole world to himself will be done in our personal lives, our churches and communities as we see a bigger church making a bigger difference today, across the diocese of Liverpool and beyond.