Message from Bishop Robert: Telling the story

Published: March 16, 2021

Stories really matter. We have a deep desire to hear them and to tell them. Love or loathe it, this is one of the key attractions of social media. It is the place where I can share ‘my story’ and be invited into other people’s lives and stories. Our social media has been full of stories these last weeks. Stories of lockdown, and vaccines, children returning to school, and especially, in these last days, of the murder of Sarah Everard and the right to protest it. Sarah’s murder has rightly brought anger that this should happen on our streets, a wave of sympathy and love for her and her family, and then with it, a cry of pain and anguish. Like Rachel, we are weeping in anguish for our children and cannot be comforted (Jeremiah 31).

The scale of the affront of this horrific event is such that words are at first hard to find. Whatever is said or written can so easily be superficial, or self-serving, especially if you are a man. Yet the scale of the affront is such that we cannot go speechless. As a husband, a father of daughters, a believer in the dignity and worth of every individual, I too must cry out. My cry must also acknowledge the responsibility I bear, both for how we are, and how we will be. I cannot say simply, “This is not me”, because it is, and it asks me what stories I have told. Have I sufficiently told the stories of human dignity, of responsibility, of the care one must have for the other? Have I played my part in sharing the stories that together will shape a culture in which this tragedy is, as it should be, unthinkable?

In these coming weeks, as followers of Jesus Christ, we will tell the story of betrayal and death, and hear again the words Jesus speaks from the cross of abandonment, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” as we see before us the pain of the world and its people. From this we will go on to tell more, of how from darkness and despair, through the action of God, love triumphs over hate, life over death. We will tell the story of hope even in the darkness. The scale and audacity of this story is such that here too words are at first hard to find.  The story takes time, and we cannot rush it. We must stay in the garden, linger at the foot of the cross and wait.

We will be convicted, and that may be almost unbearable, but we will be redeemed, as from the deepest darkness we find the brightest light, and we will tell the story of the world as it was intended to be, the world as it can be.

With every blessing,

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