The language of heaven

After much speculation, the long-awaited publication of the Savile enquiry finally arrived. The full apology by the British government for those dramatic events of 38 years ago in Londonderry, Northern Ireland where 13 people were innocently killed by a parachute regiment of the British Army was both right and appropriate.  As I pondered over the breaking news my mind began to think of my own trips to the infamous Shankhill area of Belfast, a different area of Northern Ireland but extremely volatile at that time, in the years following on. I was inspired by the many friends I found there, who, in the midst of the troubles became a beacon of hope to both Catholics and Protestants alike, touching and inviting ordinary people to seek the light.

For those with eyes to see, God’s love, care and compassion can be found in the most unlikely places.   The people who have inspired me most are often the ones who shun the limelight preferring to live out their lives unpretentiously and unselfconsciously; Christ for others…

Switching continents, I recall travelling across another city, ‘suitcase and guitar in hand’, where I was on my way to visit a homeless project in Jakarta, Indonesia.  I had a concert in another place in the evening and my hosts didn’t speak English too well.  They had been saying something about a few people gathering together in the afternoon.  I expected 35; when I arrived there were 3,500 homeless people waiting to hear me!  Unprepared, to my horror I discovered there was no vocal microphone available - just a guitar amp to play through - and no-one seemed to speak fluent English.  It was a long 45 minutes, I can tell you, but I saw first hand self-giving love.  God’s love in action.  These people had nothing – street people with no homes – no state system to rely on.  But the Christian churches – they chose to serve where the state chose to ignore. 

I think of my friends Jenny & Karen working in parts of the world where there is danger, fear and deprivation.  They are humble, unassuming people who are working in war-torn Sri Lanka with children's’ homes in Jaffna.  Talk to them about human suffering – they have seen it on a regular basis, and not just on a TV screen. 

These people, faithfully show up day after day with a quiet confidence that God is never merely limited to being an abstract doctrine but one who, through the person of Christ, to quote the Good Book, “was touched with our feelings and infirmities’.  So much so that he came and did something about it!

Now how amazing is this?  That through the lives of normal, regular people God chooses to make himself known when we are motivated by love.

A Facebook friend, recently posted up this quote from Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham:  ‘Love is the language of heaven that we get to use here’.

You know, I couldn’t have put it better myself.