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Great Casterton Parish Council

Serving the people of Great Casterton

Clerk: Derek Patience
29 Priory Gardens, Stamford

Tel: 01780 753066

Revd Bob's July Newsletter

The journalist Hadley Freeman tweeted this morning that she thought the country was 'on the point of a nervous breakdown'; following yet another attack on innocent people, this time leaving a mosque after attending prayers.

Events of the past few months have certainly created a 'national sombre mood' as the Queen wrote in her birthday message. Events seemed to reach their nemesis with the Grenfell Tower fire, a tragedy of unimaginable horror and seemingly avoidable.

So much that is happening is beyond our control and yet it affects us profoundly wherever we are, even in our small communities remote from the scene of these tragedies. It is this effect which the Queen has rightly identified.

In spite of the horror of these tragedies, one aspect has been consistent; the unstinting dedication of the emergency services and the rallying of community to support those in need. These are aspects of our national identity that are cause for encouragement and hope.

I like to think that such unwavering dedication from people from all walks of life, all cultures and creeds represents the best of our country. It was moving to see the action of the Imam urging restraint and protecting the perpetrator of the mosque violence from the understandable reaction of those who wished him harm.

In the fast moving news and media it is now all important that we all learn from what has happened; that the homeless are rehoused and the injured in body and mind find healing, the bereaved are comforted and that these needs do not get lost as the news headlines fade. We also want to see that past lessons from similar tragedies such as the Lakanal House fire are heeded and acted upon as a matter of urgency.

These events have shown that there is a violent edge demonstrated by extremists of all complexions. There is also an unhealthy attitude towards 'outsiders'. The rhetoric of 'skivers and scroungers', has to stop in describing people who receive benefits because it is simply untrue and divisive. It has been fed in recent years by the increasing individualisation and materialisation of our society, and, dare I say it, the fixation by both our major political parties on describing our society as a 'meritocracy'. In my view this leads to a narrow valuing of people by their economic worth to society. We need to recalibrate our dials as a society to reset our priorities and recognise the worth of all people and not just rank them by occupation or material worth.

The central message of Christianity calls us to recognise that God shows no favour but loves us all equally; that we are all utterly reliant on God and just as God loves us we are called 'to love our neighbour as ourself'. This will lead us into peace and wellbeing.

Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, a concept which is not a place but a presence, an awareness of the otherness of God and His benevolence. And when we become aware of this we realise that it is a reality to be grasped and realised in tangible ways beyond our immediate imagining. In His commission to His disciples, Jesus sent them out to proclaim the good news that, 'the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.'

The message of the church today is precisely the same which calls us to embrace the values and reality that have been shown to us in the person of Jesus.

May I wish you all a blessed July.

Rev Bob