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A Song for Manchester

As we enjoy the glory of a hot sunny day with blue sky, trees in full foliage and birds in joyful song, the callous slaughter in Manchester is hard to comprehend. I recollect a caretaker I met, in a Yorkshire school on the edge of Saddleworth moor. This rolling expanse of heather and gorse became notorious because of the evil actions of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. This lady would gaze across the colourful moorland and exclaim. "How could they do such a thing to innocent children?" Once, as we stood there, a skylark soared into the sky and as its song echoed across the moor, she said, "But the birds keep on singing!"

I remembered this last week. We were in a local garden centre and an announcement was made that at 11.00am there would be an opportunity to join the rest of the nation in a minute's silence in honour of those who died in Manchester. At 11.00am silence fell, but the birds kept singing.

The most poignant words in the story of Jesus are these, 'Jesus wept.' Jesus stood beside the grave of his friend Lazarus, and wept. God understands human grief. The Bible reminds us His compassions, they fail not. But He has given us the awesome privilege of free will. We are not puppets manipulated by the strings of a heavenly master, performing at his command. We can choose how we react. And, we can indeed be grateful that when humanity creates yet another catastrophe of death and destruction, God never gives up on us. He is always there to pick up the pieces. Manchester last week, Saddleworth moor decades ago, parts of the icebergs of atrocities crashing through the seas of life, BUT the birds continue to sing!

A verse by Elizabeth Cheney puts it like this.

Said the robin to the sparrow, "I should really like to know

why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so."

Said the sparrow to the robin, "Friend, I think that it must be,

that they have no heavenly Father such as cares for you and me."

Consider these words from the Bible. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care... So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

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