Saturday, 15 December 2012

Rachel weeping

The events at the Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, are tragic, and mean unimaginable loss for the families involved, and our news media is full of the story. Our emotions and feelings of compassion are stirred by this futile and evil act of one young man.

Barely 24 hours before, on Thursday, 7 children and several mothers were killed in another school, but this one received only passing mention in the media. This school was in Damascus where a car bomb exploded.

It is right to feel outrage and sorrow over the deaths in the small New England town, but we need to be aware that we are often partisan in our compassion.

Some 21,000 children die every day around the world.

This is equivalent to:

• 1 child dying every 4 seconds • 14 children dying every minute • Just over 7 ½ million children dying every year

Or to put it another way, it is equivalent to:

• A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring every 11 days • A 2010 Haiti earthquake occurring every 10 days

The silent killers of these children are poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. Despite the scale of this ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage, or arouse our feelings of empathy and sorrow.

Feel compassion for the familes devastated in Newtown, but feel it for the families of all young lives lost across our world, and in your desire never to see such events happen again, decide to make your response active not merely passive.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The ongoing cycle

I have been castigated for failing to post hereupon for many a day, but the only explanation I can offer is the lack of time to do so, and the dearth of subjects upon which I wish to comment.

Leaving aside the disastrous vote on women bishops, and today's climbdown by the Government over same-sex marriages in our churches (it will be illegal for CofE clergy to conduct such a marriage unless the CofE as a whole agrees to it - we're such a welcoming organisation - not!), so much is going on in the local churches where we continue to struggle with the future of one, and I feel like nothing I have said over the past 11 years has made any difference whatsover in the other 10. Maybe this is all well and to the good, for I have seen too many churches where congregations have become focused on the person up the front rather than on the reasons for gathering together in the first place.

One church has quaestioned the choice of carols made by an assistent who is leading their seasonal worship. The service contains all the old familiar carols with the exception of one unfamiliar one that is sung to the tune of "Morning has broken" (it wouldn't have been my choice, but that's beside the point). There was also the comment made over one of the other perennial favourites that it is too hard to sing, and that people come along to such a service to sing the familiar. I commented back that if someone has been asked to lead, then they must be allowed to lead. Thinking more upon it over the last few days I realise that the request has come from a desire for a community sing-song whereas the leadership has come from the standpoint of Christian worship. Christmas is always a balancing act between the two, but I do not like the idea of the "tail wagging the dog!"

My own Carol service layout for the two churches in which I shall conduct such a celebration is traditional in music, although there are continual comments that they don't know "Of the Father's love begotten" despite my having chosen it every year since 2002. However, I am interjecting two passages from the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Jesus into the usual canon of nine. I'll be interested to see what sort of comment that brings.

It's my eldest brother's birthday today, his wife's tomorrow, and my other brother's in about a week's time. I have yet to send greetings since it took me two days to deal with all the Christmas cards and the accompanying post. I sneakily bought all my stamps for this year and next before the postal charges rose in the summer, so that has saved me numerous £s.

Today - my day off - I have visited the dentist as a large filling dropped out last Friday, put up the greenery and string for the Christmas cards received in the hall, and am now awaiting the arrival of two new duvets - 15 tog - just in time for this cold snap. I have still to sort out the house for hosting the Benefice Shared Supper this Friday night, and that will entail moving tables and chairs and getting as many seating spaces as possible, for the Chrismas Supper is always well supported. I also need to get the lights up on the Christmas tree in the garden, though I can't do the house one until after the supper, otherwise I lose too much space.

The PCC's continue; there's the star to put up on the church tower opposite, the crib to be sorted out, and the church tree to erect. More sermons, more printing of carol sheets for the "Crib & Carols" on Christmas Eve in another of the churches, and not forgetting shopping for seasonal provisions as well.

Oh, and there's another birthday to mark this coming Sunday, when the person's parents are also coming down to visit.

Mind you, as this coming Sunday is Gaudete Sunday I shall get to wear my new pink chasuble for the first time! Let's hope I don't get candle grease or wine on it.