Belinda Groves – 21 May 2017

It is good to be back! It is good to be back among friends. It is good to be worshipping again with all of you. And it is good to be working with you, especially during this exciting time as we are thinking and praying about who we are as a church and what God is calling us to be and do.

I am facing the dilemma of all returned travellers, however: how to relate the amazing things we saw and experienced without boring you all senseless. So, I have decided, each week when I am writing in the bulletin, to share one short story from each section of our itinerary. (So rather than boring you all at once I can do it slowly!)

We started in London and after loading our Oyster cards and finding our accommodation, we headed for Westminster. The plan was to walk from there up to Trafalgar Square, across to Buckingham Palace and back – staying in the open air the whole way – to deal with any jet lag.

We were expecting to encounter a strong police presence in London as we had arrived just one week after the Westminster Bridge attack where British man, Khalid Masood, drove his car deliberately into pedestrians on the south side of the bridge and Bridge Street, injuring more than 50 people, four of them fatally, before leaving his vehicle to fatally stab a police man.

And there were police everywhere; officers carrying serious military hardware and the streets blocked by armoured personnel carriers.

But the streets were also full of people, a large proportion of whom were wearing Islamic dress. We discovered, as unwitting tourists, that we had arrived in time for a silent vigil by police and children and faith groups, one week after the attack, under the banner “love for all, hatred for none.” It was a moving moment and a reminder that there are many many people – of all faiths and none, of all walks of life – who, as the prophet Jeremiah says, seek the welfare of their city, praying and working for good.

The comments of one man there, Brenden O’Connor, had an echo of Martin Luther King Jr’s statement that light drives out darkness. “There’s love here,” the 59-year-old said, surveying the people holding hands and walking together across the bridge. “You can’t kill love with hate. Love always conquers.”

As we continue to pray and work and love – in our community here and through agencies such as Baptist World Aid in communities in Bangladesh – let us radiate that light and love to others.

Grace and peace,