At 21:40 on Tuesday, Half a mile away from my front door, in a florist shop, on Shrewsbury Street, Old Trafford, a robber was stabbed and died shortly after.
You may find it shocking, scary, paralysing…
You might find it more shocking that I don’t feel any of those things.
When something like this happens, I’m not scared, I’m not petrified or shocked, I’m not paralysed by fear or worried to go out of my front door, but I am saddened.
This is my community and I love it.
I am saddened for two reasons:
- That there are people that want to steal from others
- That people still believe the myth of redemptive violence
Now, I’m not getting all ‘holy’ on you, I have no idea how I would react if someone came in to my clinic waving a gun around and trying to get my hard-earned cash from me, (I don’t have a knife in the place to stab them but who knows what else I might end up doing?) but if your first reaction to someone threatening you is to attack them, surely, somewhere down the line, something has gone wrong.
So what can we do about it?
Firstly, will you all pray for Old Trafford. As the Rector of St Brides said, “this place is really resilient”, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see consequences and repercussions in the coming weeks and months.
I can’t predict what will happen, but I can ask you to pray that all the churches, the mosques, the Hindu temples and other places of worship will find ways to connect with the local population to bring the peace and intimacy of God into their lives.
Moreover, I will ask that you petition our magnificent creator and loving, compassionate God to find ways to powerfully act through the Christian congregations and the individual Jesus followers in our neighbourhood to discover new and compelling ways to open people’s hearts to Christ.
There’s no way that we can alter the saddening and tragic loss of life that we have experienced this week, but there is a way that we can work to attempt to prevent this happening again.
Pray with me that we, as a community of believers at the bethel and as a wider community of believers in all the churches of Old Trafford, will be able to connect with and genuinely speak the words of Paul:
I have become [the Church’s] servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
Let us be Christ-centred, Bible based and Active-in-love, open to the movement of the spirit of God among us, filled with the nature and person of Christ as he lives in us as believers (Romans 8:9), so that we can improve people’s lives by introducing them to Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.
May Jesus work in us and through us, may people see his face in ours as we see Him in their faces and love them the same way we would love Him.
“In another’s eyes I see my plea for forgiveness, and in a hardened frown I see my refusal. When someone murders, I know that I too could have done that, and when someone gives birth, I know that I am capable of that as well. In the depths of my being, I meet my fellow humans with whom I share love and have life and death.”
– Henri Nouwen, from With Open Hands