The Rector Writes – Syria, hope and Harvest

It would appear that the human capacity to inflict suffering on fellow human beings seems to have no bounds. In recent weeks there was a glimmer of hope that a meaningful ceasefire might, at last, have been possible in Syria. At the very least it was hoped that there might be the possibility of the supply of relief aid or evacuation of stranded civilians from some of the worst conflict zones. However, although hostilities did cease for a time, it proved virtually impossible get aid convoys of food, medicine and clothing to the areas most desperately in need. One U.N. convoy that had received official approval and an assurance of safe passage ended up being attached in an aerial bombardment which killed twenty civilians and aid workers (including the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent – the Arab equivalent to the Red Cross) and damaged or destroyed 18 of the 31 truck convoy and their contents.

Since that incident, full hostilities have resumed with widespread aerial bombardment by Syrian and Russian forces of rebel held positions. Worryingly, it would appear that some of the weapons now in use have long since been banned by international agreement – weapons such as blanket incendiary devices and  time-delayed cluster bombs. This, in turn, has led to accusations against Syria and Russia of war crimes by the wider world community resulting in walk-out protests at the U.N. Security Council. Meanwhile, innocent civilians continue to be trapped in conflict zones without the basic necessities of life and are in serious risk of injury or death from the indiscriminate bombing campaign. It is now a case of when it was thought that things could not get any worse, they just have!

In this part of the world, we who have never experienced such violence, insecurity, deprivation, hardship and suffering, find it virtually impossible to imagine what the day to day conditions must be like. Coupled with this is a sense of frustration and helplessness that we can do so little to help those who are now most at need. In private and public prayer, we continue to pray for a resolution to this crisis – but it appears things continue to get worse. And yet, we must have hope that our prayers will eventually be answered. As Saint Paul wrote to the Romans, ‘Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.’ (Romans 12:9-12) We must remind ourselves that all the suffering being inflicted and endured in our world is not God’s will for his people or his creation. Let us therefore persevere in our prayers that a permanent solution may be found to what is proving to be one of the most complex issues of our  me.

Moving to a more positive note, October is our traditional month for Harvest Thanksgiving. This year our Thanksgiving Service will be on Sunday 16th. Although there may be a temptation to feel pessimistic, there is much to be thankful for. For instance, we should never take the hard work of others for granted. We may sometimes forget to be grateful or show appreciation for the time, effort, dedication and skills required in some of the more menial tasks which keep our lives comfortable and running smoothly. However, it is very important at this  me of Harvest Thanksgiving that we make the effort to acknowledge and give thanks for these as well as all other blessings so freely given to us by God.

With every blessing,


Rev’d John Tanner, Tel: 289 3154 / 086 3021376

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