Grantham Journal column: May God wipe tears from the eyes of the people of Manchester

Fr Stuart Cradduck, rector of St Wulfram's Church, Grantham.
Fr Stuart Cradduck, rector of St Wulfram's Church, Grantham.
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Bodies and blood.

Carnage, terror and tears.

“There are children among the deceased,” confirmed Greater Manchester Police. “This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face,” said Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.

Nuts and bolts and nails.

Smoke and burning.

“This is horrific, this is criminal,” said Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. “May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice, both in this life and the next.”

Emergency services praised. Cobra committee convened.

“Please hold the people of #Manchester in your prayers,” tweeted David Walker, Bishop of Manchester. “We’ve faced terror attacks before and this latest won’t defeat us.”

Fear and division.

Thoughts, prayers and condemnation.

Evil descended upon Manchester Arena on Monday: his target was teenagers at a pop concert. He wore a vest packed with explosives and metal bits. There was a blast and then a flash of fire. And then everyone just started running, screaming and crying.

And then Jesus came.

“Anyone in Manchester who needs to wait for their parents or needs somewhere stay or to make phone calls, etc, just DM me. We have tea!” offered the BBC’s Simon Clancy.

“The Holiday Inn nearest to Manchester Arena have taken dozens of kids who have been separated from their parents tonight,” said Samuel Carvalho.

“Taxi drivers in #Manchester offering free journeys to those stranded after the events in #ManchesterArena,” tweeted Bethan Bonsall.

‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,‘ said Jesus.

Out of the depths comes light; out of oppression, a new possibility and hope. You can blame and curse the Islamist in bitterness and hate, or you can sing a song of joy because there’s a better story to tell.

In times of distress and suffering, there are little signs of the presence of the Lord: manna falls from desert bushes; quail drifts in with the wind; water is to be found in the most unexpected places. And the water of life is the presence of love and compassion, of guidance and affection, of ordinary people doing extraordinary little things to help their fellow man, for no other reason than that they want to and can.

‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion‘ (Ps 137:1).

‘Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?‘ (Ps 94:3).

‘Is the Lord among us or not?‘ (Ex 17:7).

The power of death brings unbearable grief, but God restores the soul. To live is to praise.

There is kindness in darkness, and mercy in Manchester. It is the intuitive pulse of faithfulness, covenant, unity and peace. May God bless those who mourn, and wipe every tear from their eyes.