Previous articles by Chris Comments
people are suffering
we celebrated the entry of the Lord into
on Palm Sunday, the week before Easter, a Coptic Church in
the Nile Delta in
was bombed and many killed. They left their homes to attend church, to
begin the days of Holy Week leading to the Triduum. Those that did return
home had experienced the shock of an indiscriminate terrorist attack that
took the lives of their friends that Sunday morning. This, and a further
attack later in
was claimed by
as their work, their way of spreading fear and uncertainty in a troubled
Why is it that so often the fabric of buildings where people gather
for worship is attacked and in consequence many lives are lost? Mosques,
Churches, Synagogues, all have been the subject of outrageous actions. In
my lifetime, the first occasion I remember was in the town of
in the Southern State of Alabama, the
It was there, on
September 15th 1963
that a Baptist Church was bombed during the Sunday service. Twenty people
were injured and four young teenage girls lost their lives, Denise McNair,
Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley. Their names became
widely known through a song written the following year and sung by Joan
opens with these words.
round by my side and I'll sing you a song.
I'll sing it so softly, it'll do no one wrong.
Sunday the blood ran like
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom.’
beautiful song of tragedy, with hope repeated in the words
‘And the choirs kept singing of freedom’
church where the bombing took
place became synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement under the
leadership of Martin Luther King. It was only
five years before his own assassination at the beginning of April
2006 the church was declared a
national historic landmark.
recently the shooting of a group of parishioners at
bible study in Mother Emanuel church in
was an event of peculiar ferocity.
It gave new impetus to the on-going discussion of issues of racial
prejudice and the open access to guns in the
. But little has changed.
It has been an all too
frequent story in recent years. Yet out of pain have come significant
markers of courage and commitment. People have not given up hope, their
faith has been sustained, they have remained constant in their belief.
The visit of Pope
is planned for the end of the month. There has been no word of any
alteration to his plans in the light of the attack on the Coptic Church.
Nor would I suggest is there likely to be for he is a man of personal
faith and courage who sees his mission at the margins of society, whatever
the risks. His safety should be the matter of continual prayer by the
We have once more
followed the Lord through the days of Easter, the Thursday of Eucharist,
the Friday of Calvary, the Emptiness of Saturday and the Amazement of a
That evening, when two
dazed and bewildered men set out for the
they were joined by a stranger who in conversation pulled the threads
together. They invited him for supper and there he showed himself in the
breaking of bread, they recognised him in Eucharist. A simple story of a
journey, a teacher and two listeners. Their story should also be our
story, a continued exchange of listening and telling. In others we
recognise the teacher from
and hopefully, in us, others have their first meeting with the same
Our times are unpredictable, the uncertainty between East and West
is reminiscent of the Cold War years. In many ways the danger is greater
now for the risk of indiscriminate attack is greater, striking in the
heart of our cities where once we felt
safe and secure.
In a few days time,
on April 26th, we will mark the beginning of airborne terror
with the 80th anniversary of the attack on the undefended town
during the Spanish Civil War. In those eighty years we have followed a
rapid learning curve in the art of killing.
‘We shall overcome some day’ were the echoing words of the 60s
anthem. It seems we still have some way to go in our pilgrimage of faith
for that to be fulfilled. We should remember in our prayers those of faith
who have died in their places of worship with no weapon in sight, their
hands open in prayer to the one God who made us.