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© St Peter’s Church Bromyard

Bishop John Wraw

It is with some sadness that I announce the death of Bishop John Wraw.  Many here in Bromyard will remember him as curate  To find out more

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Note from the Vicar

The Blame Game

Three days after the Grenfell Tower disaster in London, terrible forest fires raged through central Portugal in that country’s worst ever tragedy of this kind. Over 60 people died in terrible circumstances. (Around the same number, in both places, it so happens.) We’ve just come back from a holiday in that part of Portugal: it has been for us near to home, so to speak. In Portugal, the fires were blamed on arsonists: wicked. In London, the inferno was caused by a faulty freezer. But it was caused by a lot of other things as well, so we have learned.

In the case of Grenfell Tower, little short of a witchhunt began to identify, name and denounce ‘culprits’. There was quickly a disgust felt about such methods, as much as at the horror we felt over what had happened. I can imagine little more horrible than facing death in the path of an advancing furnace, and our hearts have been broken as the news has begun to emerge in greater detail. It is unbearable.

So, it is understandable and very human to want to ask Why? and Who was responsible? It is understandable because we would all agree that such a tragedy should not happen (but the fact is that tragedies like this happen all the time, year in year out). Because we expect, even demand, to live in a world where they do not happen – or at least not in our own country. And if they do happen, ‘something’ has to happen to ‘make it better’: justice must be done, compensation must be paid, and (most of all) we must find an appropriate head to cut off in retribution.

As one who practised as a lawyer for some years, I’ve seen at first hand how our ‘compensation culture’ drives ordinary normal people almost mad, impelled with an insatiable greed for the better offer or a lust to ‘have my day in court’. And all too often I can behave just like this myself. Somehow, we demand, there has to be an atonement for the terrible wrong done to us.

There. I’ve used a religious word. Christians have several words for the things I have been describing. Free will: a lot of the bad stuff we bring on our own heads. Sin: things I do, say and think which are wrong. Evil: there is plenty of evil in this world, alongside (thank God) much which is lovely and good. Justice: what is right, something we should all strive to achieve. But ultimately, God is Judge. And atonement: most importantly of all, Jesus took all that is wrong, evil, sinful on his own shoulders as he died on the Cross. He died for us, in our place. And that means, as a result, there is forgiveness. Two amazing things happen: starting with me, I realise that I am the one who needs forgiveness. And secondly, I now find it possible to forgive the wrongs done to me.

Yes, compensation might still need to be paid. Yes, wrongdoers might need to be punished or disciplined for what has gone wrong. Yes, things might need to be changed so that the same wrongs are not repeated. And tears of grief will still be shed in the wake of tragedy.

All this is very understandable and human. And God stands with us, not apart from us. In fact he has hung in pain and suffering Himself.

Clive Evans.