Claire Moll is a member of the Community of St George – helping to renew the life of the parish church through prayer, reflection and organising – and bringing diverse neighbours together to build relationships and act for justice. In this blog, she reflects on the recent terrorist attacks, and the reactions in her neighbourhood.
As Christians, we are called to be Christ’s light in the world. However, after a series of tragic attacks on our larger British community, if feels harder to keep that light burning.
After the latest news of darkness falling upon the city of London on Saturday night, a thick blanket of sorrow and anger engulfed me. How could a group of people threaten my home, cut so many lives short, and do it all in the name of a religion I know to be a source of inspiration and peace to so many of my friends. I began to wonder whether that my positive experience as an immigrant in east London – and in particular, the work going Muslims and Christians are doing to organise for affordable housing – was a wholly atypical one. Am I living in a utopian bubble of solidarity and friendship that will inevitably burst? Do we live in a world in which different faiths and worldviews are destined to exist in mutual conflict?
As I went to the Eucharist at St. George-in-the-East, I reflected on these questions, and on my anger at the “world as it is,” with my fellow worshipers. One wise soul reminded me that God has promised us that there are rewards for people who face such tragedies and struggles in this life. Grateful for her insight, I decided to be open to seeing where might there might be beacons of light shining through the darkness.
Upon opening my email inbox that morning, I was confronted by several such beacons! I’m helping out with the Near Neighbours programme, and over the weekend, some fantastic applications had come in – local people, of different faiths, working across difference to make their area better. God indeed answers prayer!
It is so easy to become jaded and to accept the narratives that the extremists would rather us believe. However, we must avoid this temptation. The work which Near Neighbours and CTC are supporting across eastern London may feel slow and incremental. But, in the face of hatred, we must keep on keeping on – working with people of all the faiths and cultures for whom this great world city is home, to weave new bonds of solidarity, friendship and trust. This requires continuous effort and intentional work – and thousands of local people are putting that work in every day of the year. In the shadow of hate and violence, may we shine our lights of love and hope even more brightly.
If you are involved in a project in East or South East London which is bringing diverse neighbours together, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out whether your project might be eligible for Near Neighbours funding.