I’m writing this the day after we watched ‘The Choir: Our School by the Tower’. Gareth Malone is the choir leader who inspires ordinary people to discover their voice and who has a story-line of belief in the power of music to build community and transform lives. This particular programme was based on the Grenfell Tower tragedy and in particular its impact on the life of the school that lives in its shadow. After a year in temporary accommodation pupils and staff are returning home to their original school buildings and the Head teacher has a vision for marking the occasion with a concert. Its aim is to enable the whole community to move forward in unity – children, parents, teachers, and governors.
It was a powerful story with some good life lessons. The moment when three girls wrote a drama which reflected on the day when they watched as the tower burnt ending the lives of some of their friends. Some of the staff were concerned it would be too much for the community to bear but the children wanted to address the loss ‘head-on’ – one quite young lad maturely observing that we can’t ‘ignore our story’ and that ‘tears would heal’. Such an encouragement to press on with tackling ‘head-on’ some of the real issues that face us personally and as a society. An older boy with a troubled family background who blossoms under the mentoring of Gareth; the shy girl who similarly discovers her gifts. How much more can we draw encouragement to press in to our mentoring of children and young people which lasts for more than a few weeks and holds out the hope of knowing the person of Jesus Christ.
A key focus of the concert was that they wanted to tell their story and in telling the story enable the community to find hope and celebrate a new beginning. We have such a powerful story to tell: it’s God’s story and it’s our story. It has the power to transform lives for all eternity; turn ashes into beauty; renew ruined cities; restore devastated places; release the oppressed; bind up the broken-hearted; break every chain; restore God’s image in us; reconcile families; build community; release the potential of every human being to be fully human…..and I could go on!
At Good Companions just before Christmas, one guest on our table as we were singing a carol that declared God forgave our sins said: ‘Well, that didn’t happen at Christmas, it was at Easter.’ Although it depends on how you look at it, I thought: Good point! At Easter, God, in the person of Jesus Christ, addresses the power of evil ‘head-on’ and wins. At this church we have so many gifted people who tell the story in such a compelling and creative way. All we need is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to fall afresh in wave after wave of living water.
May that be our experience this Easter, even though our experience individually will be at different points in the rollercoaster of the Easter journey. For some of us, it may feel more like Good Friday: hopes dashed, dreams empty, mourning loss; for others it’s the middle day that connects with us more – a season of waiting, silence; for others we’re ready to rock and roll in celebration of God’s intervention in our own lives personally and dramatically.
For all of us there is the call to live in and tell our own story, to address issues head-on and to find ourselves in His story in a fresh way. As we do, we can have confidence that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. This Easter, we pray that you will know the joy of the hope that is within you and know how loved and special you are to Him.
Love and prayers, Stephen and Pippa