Reflection for Father’s Day and the murders in Nottingham.

‘“Your wife Sarah shall have a son.” Now Abraham and Sarah were old….. So Sarah laughed.’ An accurate prophecy in Genesis 18:1-15, despite Sarah’s disbelief.

“Grace and her friend, they fell together, and you just need to be friends with everyone. You need to love everyone and I wish we had more of it…. She loved being here and she loved all of you….you should all feel very blessed.” Sanjoy Kumar, father of one of the murdered students in Nottingham. 

Today is Father’s Day, an American tradition that has its origins in a mining tragedy in 1908 when a service was held to commemorate the 362 men who were killed in West Virginia, leaving widows and over 1,000 children. So it seems appropriate that it’s marked today in the light of so many family tragedies occurring the world over this week. Over 500 people, 100 children amongst them, are missing from a boat full of migrants that sank off the Greek coast; the death toll in the warfare between Russia and Ukraine has been proved by the BBC to be much higher than originally thought; a family has been found dead in a Hounslow flat; three people have been killed and others injured in Nottingham – so many parents and children killed, so much pain and grief to endure. Moreover, the families of those killed in war or lost at sea off Greece may never know where their loved ones are or be able to afford to have their bodies back to bury – a terrible fate for them all to have to live with as desperate risks are taken in the hope of a better life. 

Yet alongside this are the words of hope spoken by the parents and children of those who died in Nottingham. The son of school site manager Ian Coates, who was a valued member of staff, spoke of the simple things he enjoyed, his grandchildren, fishing and supporting Nottingham Forest football club. Ian was coming up to retirement and the two students aged 19 were just completing their first year of study. So much loss, so much possibility for rage or bitterness – and yet, Grace’s mother urged those listening, “Please hold no hate that relates to any colour, sex or religion” while her father spoke of Grace being a blessing. What courage in the face of devastation, a deliberate choice to love and break the cycle of violence that could otherwise have increased. We who have choices where so many do not are blessed in having those options, hard as they may be make. 

That was also reflected in the life of Jesus, who taught his followers to pray Our Father and not My Father and urged them to love one another until he, too, was murdered. His death, stabbed by the nails and spear of the soldiers, was accompanied by the words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) That sacrificial love eventually led to resurrection and the hope that death will not have the last word. May it be so in all places where fathers and mothers, sons and daughters grieve and have the choice to be able to show such grace and courage as in Nottingham this week. And may doubters such as Abraham and Sarah, who understandably laughed at the idea that she could have a child in her old age, dare to believe that blessings and heartfelt longings can still be fulfilled whether in anguish or joy and at the start or nearing the end of life’s adventure. 

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.

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