A View From The Vicarage, July 2017
As I write this, the whole Country and indeed it seems the Government are struggling to come to terms with the implications and consequences of the catastrophic fire at the Grenfell Tower in Kensington on 14th June. I’m convinced that this will prove to be one of these seminal moments, when what had appeared to be the status quo is irrevocably altered.
A Government which as recently as the beginning of the election campaign seemed impregnable now appears weak and indecisive buffeted by the harsh winds of a catalogue of national disasters; an indecisive General Election result, the opening of the formal negotiations with the European Commission about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and all of this with a resurgent Opposition and a media convinced that its days are numbered.
At the heart of this latest tragedy alongside all of the others which have so shaped our national conversation over the past few months are real people whose lives have been irrevocably altered in ways that they simply couldn’t have conceived. I pray and hope that by the time that you read this, at least some of the answers as to how and why this catastrophe occurred will have been identified and that the consequent safety improvements will have begun to be implemented for all of those who work or live in these “towns in the sky” as they were once proudly described.
However inept or inadequate the official response to the Grenfell Tower calamity was, what is absolutely indisputable is that the reaction from the very diverse community of Kensington and Chelsea has been simply astounding and one that has I’m sure made all of us proud to be British. What we have witnessed is nothing more or less than ordinary people doing quite extraordinary things. This is precisely what lies at the heart of Christianity; human beings loved by God into existence, redeemed by Christ into undreamt of possibilities and inspired by the Holy Spirit to utilise their God given gifts for the benefit and betterment of their communities.
The ultimate personification of this is Christ himself who reaches out to those whom society neglects or even rejects. In Christ’s eyes nobody is an alien, an asylum seeker, a benefit scrounger. Whoever we are, wherever we are, or whatever we are, all are absolutely unique and equally precious to God. All have God-given rights as human persons and the primary duty of the State alongside the defence of the Realm is surely to protect and nurture them so that all have an equal opportunity to develop these gifts for the benefit of the whole of society.
Let’s pray and hope that the Government, so recently elected will not be found wanting in carrying out its duties in respect of the Grenfell Tower residents but also in the crucial negotiations with the European Union and its bodies and member states. In the words which HM the Queen uses at the conclusion of her speech to open the Westminster Parliament we “pray that the blessing of Almighty God will rest upon all their counsels.”
With my love and prayers as always