You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
Our next door neighbours are moving away. We will be sad to see them go as they have been in that house for the past seventeen years; their children were born and grew up there. Who will move in? Since this road is in the catchment area for three good schools they will almost certainly have children, but beyond that, who knows?
That makes me ask, who is my neighbour? Obviously the people who live next door qualify, but what about the little old lady who, because of her lack of height, was unable to reach the carton of cranberry juice from the top shelf in the supermarket? Was she not my neighbour, too? Being over six feet tall it was no problem for me to reach up to get it for her.
But perhaps the recent terrorist attacks have answered that question loud and clear. The aim of the attacks was to divide us as a community, to set one race or religion against another; to create discord, division and hatred, the exact opposite of neighbourliness. Yet the result was to show that we will not be manipulated in that way. The vast outpourings of solidarity, of coming together of people of different ethnicity demonstrated that quite clearly. The concert in Manchester last evening attended by so many people affected by the previous atrocity raising as it did millions for charity makes the point that we will not be divided, that we care for our neighbours. And of course there were numerous examples of individual of neighbourliness. For example, the homeless man who cared for an injured child until paramedics arrived. We may have passed him by sitting on the side of the street without taking notice of him but when he felt called to help he did just that. When asked, his comment was that just because he was homeless that didn’t mean he didn’t care. Or the off duty police officer who without a care for his own safety ran towards the London attackers to get innocent people out of harm’s way.
After the London attack Archbishop Welby said: “Anger is an understandable emotion but it must not be directed at those of the Muslim faith.”
God made man in His own image; He made no distinction as ethnicity. God made man and woman of all races and religions to live together as neighbours in peace and harmony; so let it be.
Here is an extract from a prayer I found this morning that I think is appropriate:
‘In a world that often and easily forgets you Lord, give me the Spirit’s gift of reverence; give me a spirit of profound respect for you and for all the people you call your own. Amen’*
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years