Monday, 30 September 2019

Life and limb

I was horrified to be reminded recently that only 80 years ago World War II began. It seems that we've only just finished reliving World War I. But of course that's exactly what it must have felt like. I remember being taught that more died in Europe from war last century than in all previous conflicts. And many were damaged in mind or body so they could only really exist afterwards, not thrive.
peace bench by Jurassic Roundabout cycle track

My generation didn't fight in the wars but do have uncles, aunts, and parents who did; or who grew up during the horror. This means first hand memory of those times is fading, and that brings the risk that we take peace for granted.

Sadly since then many have been killed or maimed in Northern Ireland, Kuwait, Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan to name a few. It has been great to see Help for Heroes emerge alongside the British Legion as a way of recognising this amazing sacrifice, but still we often take Her Majesty's Forces for granted.

It's important to remember the Reserves who make a significant commitment in training so that they are ready to serve if called up. Those working in intelligence are vital in thwarting acts of terror, and giving politicians information on which to make decisions. Our ambulance, police, fire, and coastguard services play an important part too. All in all the numbers involved are huge.
Jesus told a story about a king honouring those who didn't feel worthy of praise because their acts of kindness were natural and spontaneous. 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me' [Matthew 25.40]. The costly commitment to peace is made on behalf of all of us.

With whatever Brexit throws up next, lets make sure we act and speak for peace, to honour the fallen, and recognise all those who work to keep us safe. May we live life to the full as we treasure the extraordinary gift of peace.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Fruit counts

Against my better judgement I had to admit that when I worked in the Central Electricity Generating Board [CEGB] the ruthless managers often achieved more than others. That meant cheaper bills for consumers.

CEGB logo

Jesus taught that judging people by the fruit of their efforts was important. He was quite relaxed about things, even though the political climate of his day would make Brexit seem straightforward. He put it like this: 'Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit [Matthew 7.17]. Some make great claims which result in little, while others achieve beyond expectations. Leaders need to bring the best out of the teams they head. We are held to account for the fruit of our labours.

I might be tempted to write to the Prime Minister as Mr Dominic Cummings, and congratulate him for controlling Boris Johnson so effectively. He is certainly a ruthless manager. Both Cummings and Johnson will be held to account by the fruit they produce. That might be through Parliament, or via social media, or through the ballot box. Whatever the outcome of a confused time in the UK, fruit will tell.

Jesus was no lightweight because his teaching made it clear that diseased trees are cut down and burned. It's a powerful image for all of us. Voting and influencing those in authority are important, but so are day to day actions. We never get this opportunity to make a difference for good again.

In a time of national confusion, we can be crystal clear about our words and actions. Have a good day!